Last year Shawn Langdon and his DHL/Kalitta Air Top Fuel team took home the title at the biggest race of the season, the prestigious U.S. Nationals and finished sixth in the Top Fuel point standings. After two years in a Funny Car where he became just the 17th driver ever to win in both Funny Car and Top Fuel, the return to the dragster ranks was an easy transition. This year after multiple days of testing in West Palm Beach Langdon is ready to make a run at one more historic win. Already the owner to championship trophies from the U.S. Nationals, the Winternationals and the NHRA Finals, a Gatornationals victory would give him the “Grand Slam” of historic wins.
“For me, it’s just about winning races,” said Langdon. “That’s the biggest thing. The Gatornationals is a big race and it’s a track that I haven’t won at. Regardless of where it is, I’d like to win at every track and Gainesville is one of them. Gainesville is a track that I haven’t won at yet. So, I definitely have a lot of motivation there to do well. This year it’s the season kick-off and I’m looking forward to going there and, hopefully, we can have some success. It’s eluded me for a number of years and I’d like to get that checked off the list.”
As a 15-time Top Fuel winner Langdon knows what it takes on race day to get a win. The biggest hurdle all the NHRA competitors will have to overcome is a longer than usual off-season. It has been almost five months since Langdon has filled the seat of his DHL/Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster in competition conditions.
“It’s different. I definitely filled my time working on my bracket cars and working on getting a junior dragster ready for my nephew out in California,” said Langdon. “I kept busy the whole time and about everything I did was racing related, so even though it may have actually been four months off, in my mind it wasn’t. I’d still be practicing on my practice tree and racing on my iRacing simulator. There’s still a lot of stuff I do seven days a week that’s racing related.”
A new season-opening venue doesn’t bother a veteran like Langdon. Throughout the season last year the avid sportsman racer took to the track at big money races across the country to keep his reaction times and racing skills sharp. The diversity of racing classes and locations gives Langdon a sense of balance and motivation as the season starts with a brand new feeling.
“I’d like to pick up where we left off last year. We really started running a lot better towards the end of the year,” said Langdon. “(Crew Chiefs) Kurt Elliott and Connie (Kalitta) have done a great job of working on the car, tuning it and giving me a chance to win on Sunday and that’s all I need. As long as I have a chance, I feel like I can keep us competitive with reaction times. I know that every one of these crew guys busted their butt all off-season, double and triple-checking everything making sure we are very prepared and ready to go. No matter what happens this year with the pandemic, I feel that we’re ready to run all the races, test as much as we need to and contend for a championship.”
2020 NHRA Gatornationals Highlights: Qual. No. 7; Beat Justin Ashley; Lost to Billy Torrence
Last Event Recap (2020 NHRA Las Vegas Finals): Qual. No. 5; Lost to Clay Millican
Career Stats: 267 events, 264 starts, 297 round wins, 17 wins, 34 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 219 events, 216 starts, 15 wins, 31 finals, 258 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
Kalitta Motorsports PR