As the fourth race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series gets underway at zMAX Dragway Shawn Langdon and his DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel team are building momentum. Two weeks ago Langdon raced to a semifinal finish at the Southern Nationals on a race day that did not see stellar performance numbers. The team did pick up two critical round wins and held onto the No. 3 spot in the Top Fuel point standings. The NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide National is the event where Langdon scored his first career Funny Car win and this weekend he will be looking to become just the second driver to collect a Funny Car and Top Fuel four-wide title at zMAX Dragway. He would join former crew chief Del Worsham with the distinction if the DHL Kalitta Top Fuel dragster can light three win lights on Sunday.
“It would be awesome to join Del on that list,” said Langdon. “Del has been around the sport for a long time and he is one of the most accomplished racers. He is one of the best talents behind the wheel. I was fortunate enough to work with him when I was driving Funny Car when he was the crew chief with Nicky Boninfante. Just to be able to pick his brain and have him on my side was a huge added bonus for me when I was making that transition. He was great to talk about runs after the fact since I understood what I was saying from the driver’s perspective. He got it. We were a pretty good combination.”
Langdon is enjoying his time back in the Top Fuel dragster and at the season opening Gatornationals the 2013 Top Fuel world champion scored a runner-up finish. Racing at a facility like zMAX Dragway, known on the tour as “The Bellagio of Drag Strips” gives Langdon confidence and also a certain amount of pride.
“zMAX Dragway is one of the best facilities we have on our schedule if not the best,” said Langdon. “It is accessible. It is close to town, traffic doesn’t get to crazy and they have plenty of grandstands. They have really nice pits and a great race track. Those are all the things you look for when it comes to a great race track. They have it all. You want to put on a good show and I know they are sold out on Saturday with limited capacity so that will give it a pretty good vibe.”
The 2021 season will begin to shift into high gear this weekend as the NGK NTK Four-Wide Nationals are the first race of a back-to-back weekend of races. The teams will be heading to Houston, Texas immediately after this race. The rapid fire events are a plus in Langdon’s opinion.
“We have been in a good groove and last race in Atlanta we had some things fall out way,” said Langdon. “We were able to make it to the semifinals even though we struggled getting down the track. We had a lot of luck on our side but looking back at the first three races we have a runner-up, a semifinal and a quarterfinal finishes.”
“We are in contention and we are third in points. We are right behind Steve Torrence who has been dominant the last couple of years and one of the most dominant combinations over the last decade is Antron Brown and Brian Corradi and we are up in the mix with them. We still haven’t won a race yet. I feel like we are there and we definitely have an opportunity. We have the team and the resources to win races led by Connie Kalitta. Everything just needs to fall our way and I really feel like we have a competitive car that we can race for wins. We are looking to be racing for a championship at the end of the year,” added Langdon.
2019 NHRA Carolina Four-Wide Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): In Funny Car: WINNER; Qual. No. 5; Beat Jeff Diehl and Terry Haddock; Tommy Johnson Jr. and J.R. Todd; Robert Hight, John Force and Matt Hagan
Last Event Recap (2021 NHRA Southern Nationals): Qual. No. 11; Beat Leah Pruett, Mike Salinas; Lost to Steve Torrence
Career Stats: 270 events, 267 starts, 303 round wins, 17 wins, 35 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 222 events, 219 starts, 15 wins, 32 finals, 264 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
Gatornationals: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 6; Beat Doug Foley, Leah Pruett, Antron Brown; Lost to Josh Hart
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 6; Beat Troy Buff and Rob Passey; Lost to Doug Kalitta and Steve Torrence
Atlanta: Qual. No. 11; Beat Leah Pruett, Mike Salinas; Lost to Steve Torrence
Kalitta Motorsports PR