Before this past Thursday, Shawn Langdon hadn’t even sat in a Top Fuel dragster since the end of the 2017 season.
“We got everything kind of adjusted and got the warm-up going. So everything seemed good,” he said just before hitting The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the DHL Dragster at the outset of PRO-sponsored preseason testing.
Knowing how much success he had enjoyed in a Top Fuel car, first with Morgan Lucas Racing, then in a championship run with Alan Johnson Racing, a stint at DSR, and finally with Kalitta Motorsports, someone told him he will enjoy being back in a dragster. “I think you’re going to be happy boy” was the prediction.
“We’ll find out. I don’t know. I’m excited. I’ll drive whatever. I’m just excited to have an opportunity to work with Connie [team owner Kalitta] again and work with the DHL group,” Langdon said. “It’s the beginning of the year, so it doesn’t matter what car you drive, whenever you hit the gas for the first time it’s always going to seem like a blur and take you a couple runs to get reacclimated. But I’ll probably have those first couple runs to get reacclimated into a dragster. We’ll hit the gas and find out.”
He stood on the gas, all right, clocking a 3.770-second elapsed time his second time out Thursday, and that put him second only to first-day leader Antron Brown (3.746 seconds, 315.71 mph). His car showed consistency Friday with a 3.786. And by the Saturday wrap-up, Langdon had topped the drivers testing at Las Vegas, registering a 3.685-second E.T. at 325.77 mph. He followed that with a 3.691.
So he was, indeed, a happy boy. Langdon told Competition Plus editor Bobby Bennett after Saturday’s performance, “To come out and run a 3.685, and a 3.691, you cannot help but feel really good. We came out in the first two days and made planned shut-off runs, and still the incrementals showed we could make the runs we did today.”
He said Connie Kalitta was satisfied with Langdon’s first runs in the car and “hopped on his plane and flew back home” to Ypsilanti, Mich.
Langdon said he enjoys his relationship with the super-confident drag-racing pioneer Kalitta and talked about how the opportunity to return to the Top Fuel class came about: “It was an opportunity that presented itself with Connie Kalitta wanting to go to three cars. 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 semifinal [appearance] in the final three races. So it’s good to be back racing with the DHL Toyota team. I’m excited for this year.”
Although he acknowledged he would have liked to have won more races in the Funny Car ranks, Langdon said he was happy to have two Funny Car trophies.
“I’ve always had the nature that whatever car I get in, I want to be competitive,” he said. “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.
“I just want to race. If that means racing a Funny Car, perfect. If that means racing a 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,” Langdon said. “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.”
And just for the record, he said what he can take away from Funny Car an apply it racing in Top Fuel is absolutely nothing: “A Funny Car is just so different than a dragster. Really, the only thing I learned in Funny Car that I can apply to Top Fuel is how to deep stage.” He laughed the laugh of a happy boy.
What’s a Funny Car driver to do when he gets to the test session, and his rig doesn’t make it? We Ron Capps busy by putting a microphone in his hand, and sticking him in front of a camera. He caught up with Paul Lee. #DragRacingNews #RonCappsExperience – https://t.co/kxM0mch50M pic.twitter.com/EM3T1KASnw
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) February 3, 2020