For the first time since 2017 Shawn Langdon will not be sitting behind a 10,000 horsepower engine when he rolls to the starting line for the 60th annual NHRA Winternationals. The 2013 NHRA Top Fuel champion will be returning to the class that started his professional career. His two year stint behind the wheel of a Toyota Camry Funny Car gave the racer a unique experience and perspective but the Californian does not express any race car preference.
“I just want to race,” said Langdon during the Las Vegas PRO test session. “If that means racing a Funny Car…perfect. If that means racing a Top Fuel dragster…perfect. I like racing. To me, it doesn’t matter what I race, I just enjoy having an opportunity to compete and compete for wins and a championship.”
As one of only seventeen racers to win in both Top Fuel and Funny Car Langdon is eager to get back to Top Fuel behind the wheel of the DHL Kalitta Air dragster. The transition was announced over the off-season and the 14-time Top Fuel winner is eager to get back in front of the engine. He is also looking forward to being reunited with crew chief and racing legend Connie Kalitta.
“It was an opportunity that presented itself with Connie Kalitta wanting to go to three cars,” explained Langdon. “They asked me if I wanted to go back to drive for him again in the dragster and it was absolutely. I raced with him in 2017. We had a great year and ended on a great note with two runner-up finishes and a semi-final in the final three races. So it’s good to be back racing with the DHL Toyota team. I’m excited for this year.”
Langdon will be returning to his home track in Pomona having grown up 20 miles outside of the city on the outskirts of Los Angeles. He has registered four Top Fuel wins at the track, sweeping both the Winternationals and NHRA Auto Club Finals in 2013 and 2015.
“It’s exciting to get back there and get the season started,” said Langdon. “Obviously, Pomona is a home race for me, so it’s always neat to go back and race in front of my family and friends at a place where I grew up watching my heroes. It’s also the first race of the season, so it’s exciting just to get the season going. It’s good to have enjoyed the success we’ve had there, that’s what you strive for. Some tracks you go to you seem to find the Winner’s Circle and some tracks it seems like you’re always looking for early flights out on Sunday. Fortunately, Pomona is one of those tracks for me where I seem to have great success at. Hopefully, we can start out with another win. That would be awesome.”
The time in Funny Car would be considered a measured success with Langdon picking up two wins last season. He qualified for the Countdown both seasons he was piloting the Camry Funny Car and was a consistent threat each season. For Langdon no matter what he was driving whether it was a Super Comp dragster or Funny Car his goal was always victory.
“I’ve always had the nature that whatever car I get in, I want to be competitive,” said Langdon. “I don’t come out here to race and not win. So whatever I get in, I try to give 100 percent every time. I just try to be a part of a team that’s going to be a championship contender and we were able to have two great years in Funny Car and got two wins out of it. It would be nice, maybe one day in the future, to go back and maybe get a championship in Funny Car, but I’m very pleased to be back working with Connie, Kurt Elliott and the whole DHL team.”
In addition to a new look and new primary sponsor Langdon and the rest of the Kalitta Motorsports team will be enjoying the continued support of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and well as a handful of new sponsors. Most notably during the off-season NGK Spark Plugs and Mobil 1 announced exclusive marketing and technology relationships with the Michigan based teams.
“It’s great to bring in some prestigious new partners. NGK and Mobil 1 are new to us on the marketing front, but they are great companies that have played a huge role in our sport. So we’re very happy to have them on board and very happy to work with them and showcase their products to the world,” added Langdon.
2019 NHRA Winternationals Highlights: Qual. No. 6; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Auto Club Finals): Qual. No. 4; Beat Jeff Arend; Lost to Robert Hight
Career Stats: 256 events, 253 starts, 287 round wins, 16 wins, 33 finals, 18 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 208 events, 205 starts, 14 wins, 30 finals, 248 round wins, 18 No. 1 qualifiers