Shawn Langdon took control of race day at the NHRA Midwest Nationals and captured his second Funny Car win of the 2019 NHRA season. The win jumped Langdon into the Funny Car championship conversation with a move from 10th to 7th and an 80 point deficit from the points lead in the category. The Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car took out three Countdown contenders on the way to the winner’s circle. This was Langdon’s 16th career Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victory after registering 14 in Top Fuel.
“What an incredible day,” said Langdon in the World Wide Technology Raceway Media Center. ”Going through qualifying, we didn’t have a fast car, but we did have a consistent racecar. After Reading where we smoked the tires a lot and blew the tires off at the starting line, we kind of had to go in a conservative way. It put us behind in qualifying and we ended up qualifying tenth and didn’t give us a good draw in the first round with Tommy Johnson Jr. My crew chiefs told me ‘We’re going to get you close. We don’t know exactly what it’s going to do because we made a couple of changes from yesterday. We think it’s going to run well and we’re going to give you the best car we can’.”
Langdon’s race day started with a strong driver performance in his first round victory. The No. 10 qualifier took a starting line advantage all the way to a win light on a hole shot win over Johnson Jr. Langdon’s 3.907 second elapsed time combined with his stellar .047 reaction time moved him into the quarterfinals. Johnson’s elapsed time of 3.89 was the only run in the 3.80s and was not enough to defeat Langdon.
Racing against veteran driver Jim Campbell Langdon had lane choice and confidence on his side. At the hit of the throttle his Camry immediately smoked the tires as Campbell began to pull away. Luckily, Campbell also hazed his tires a split second later. Langdon took the opportunity to practice his pedaling skills and he feathered the throttle on his 11,000 hp Funny Car. He was able to regain traction and began reeling in Campbell and by 500 feet he flew past him for the win.
“We came back for second round and we were just trying to make a good clean run and it blew the tires off at the hit. It was a situation where I felt I had a lot of learning to do in driving a Funny Car because it’s a lot different from a dragster,” said Langdon. “I just tried to take my time and be patient, especially on the hotter track surface, just allowing the car to recover and kind of squeezed the throttle back on. Then I saw Jim having some issues and I just tried to get it back full throttle. My old Super Comp days came back to me. As I was tracking him down I could see I was going to get there first. But I could tell the motor was laboring really hard, so I clicked it off a little bit early before the finish line just to make sure I didn’t blow anything up.”
A tough semifinal faced Langdon as he drew one of the quickest and most consistent racecars on the property the past three days. Bob Tasca III earned qualifying bonus points every round and made two solid runs on race day. Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology crew chief tandem of Del Worsham and Nicky Boninfante knew they could step it up and race to their third final round.
The quickest run of the semifinals belonged to Langdon. His 3.953 second run trailered Tasca and gave him lane choice over teammate and final round opponent J.R. Todd. The round win also jumped Langdon up in the Mello Yello points.
The all-Kalitta final round was the second consecutive all-Kalitta final of the Countdown following the Kalitta versus Crampton Top Fuel final in Reading. It was also the third win in a row for Kalitta Motorsports, a feat that had not been duplicated since Doug Kalitta won three races in a row in 2016, a streak that was ironically snapped by Shawn Langdon. Langdon faced J.R. Todd and the Kalitta Funny Cars both launched hard and Langdon knew he would have his hands full.
“I’m not really sure what happened in the finals. I hit the gas and I heard that thing was laboring, but man it was the final round in the Countdown and I’m not lifting. I was expecting to see the yellow car and I knew our car was struggling, but I never did and we got the win,” said Langdon.
The win moved Langdon up to seventh points and more importantly showed him and his Global Electronic Technology team that a championship is definitely within reach.
“Man, it was a pretty good day. It was a great morale booster for the whole team. We felt like we’ve had a car that’s been capable of winning for a while now, we just seemed to be running into the buzzsaw and the low ETs of every round. We felt like we just needed that one round to turn it around. I felt like we had a big day today,” added Langdon.
Langdon on heading to Charlotte: “Any time you can get a win in the Funny Car class it builds momentum, especially early. From the situation we were in, starting the Countdown in ninth-place, there’s not a lot of room for error. Then just having a bad race in Reading and dropping to tenth, the ensuing phone calls the next couple of days in all the conference calls we had with the team was we had to make some big changes for St. Louis because if we don’t make the finals we aren’t going to have a shot.”
Qualified: No. 10 (3.905 sec., 330.72 mph)
Bonus points: 0