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SONOMA — They were high school classmates who talked of roaring side by side on drag racing's biggest stage. It was a ridiculous ambition, but it came true Sunday at Sonoma Raceway as Shawn Langdon (Jurupa Valley High, Class of '01) lined up against Morgan Lucas (Jurupa Valley High, Class of '01) in the Top Fuel final at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

"This is something that Shawn and I always talked about doing," Lucas said. "We teamed up on runs and talked about it while we were driving up and down the highways and across the country."

It was Langdon who prevailed Sunday, crossing the finish line in 3.920 seconds while Lucas smoked his tires and limped across in 4.628. The long-time friends had faced once before in a final, as teammates in the first event of the 2011 season, the Winternationals in Pomona — just a couple freeway interchanges from where these two grew up outside of Riverside. Lucas won that time.

"I got a little payback," said Langdon, who increased his lead in the Top Fuel standings to 102 points over Spencer Massey and 104 over Tony Schumacher.

Also Sunday, Ron Capps won for the third time in four years here in the Funny Car division, and a couple of youngsters captured the other two classes — 21-year-old Vincent Nobile in Pro Stock and 24-year-old Hector Arana Jr. in Pro Stock Motorcyle.

It was Langdon's fourth victory of the season, and it couldn't have come at a more auspicious time. The driver's benefactor, His Excellency Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani — the Qatari prince who owns the Al-Anabi race team — was attending his first race of the NHRA season.

"Anytime the boss comes into the room, you kind of tighten up a little bit," Langdon admitted. "You make sure you're dressed to impress a little. But ... it actually really relaxed me after I got to talking with him. He shares the same dream as us, shares the same passion as us. We're all out here for the same reason."

With Sheikh Khalid pouring money into the racing program, noted crew chief Alan Johnson serving as team manager, and Langdon developing into a first-rate driver, it has been quite a year for Al-Anabi in Top Fuel.

Langdon's most recent victory only cemented its position, though he didn't have such an easy time of it in the mild race conditions in southern Sonoma County. He beat Bob Vandergriff by .043 second in the first round, and clipped Doug Kalitta by just .020 in the second before coasting in a semifinal race when Antron Brown launched his blower and shot flames out of the back of his car.

Langdon thought he was a goner in the final when his car all but died about halfway down the track after taking off like a rocket. "Right before half-track, it just shut off," Langdon said. "The first thing that goes through your mind is: (shoot). There's nothing you can do. I mean, it's just completely dead, broke the blower belt. You're just coasting across. And that point, I'm trying to listen for him, to figure out where he's at, and I don't hear him."

Because Lucas was having even more trouble with his dragster.

"You have to have a certain amount of slippage to get these cars down the track," Lucas said. "We were too far on the conservative side, and when that happens you can create a thing called tire shake. That's where the tire doesn't know if it's too fast or slow, and it turns into tire smoke. We just bit ourselves in the butt."

It wasn't exactly as Langdon and Lucas (the son of Forrest Lucas, founder of Lucas Oil Products) drew it up as high school seniors. They met immediately after Lucas transferred to Jurupa Valley from a private school.

"Just randomly met in high school," Langdon said. "Sat down in class one day next to one another, first day of school, just got to talking. We were both involved in racing ... Obviously, created a little bond there."

Amazingly, NASCAR driver Josh Wise was another member of their high school class.

The bond that Langdon and Lucas built around racing only grew after they graduated. They were roommates at Riverside Community College, and they raced mid-level Top Alcohol dragsters together. In their spare time, they battled one another in drag-racing video games. It was Morgan Lucas Racing that gave Langdon his first professional ride in 2009.

"The opportunity came up, we had an empty seat and we knew he had the capabilities," Lucas said. "He was close to our family. My parents looked at him as if he were an extended branch of the family. Knowing that, and knowing what he was capable of, it was a no-brainer. And he turned into a commodity really fast."

Langdon competed for Lucas Racing for three years in Top Fuel, but didn't win a race. His fortunes have turned in his second season with Al-Anabi.

"Heck, I almost went four years without a win," Langdon said. " ... We feel like we've got a car to beat right now."

His old high school buddy probably wouldn't argue that last point.

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.