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Shawn Langdon Breaks Winless Streak in Flawless Car, Enters Pomona with Points Lead

Flawless. That’s how Kalitta Air Careers Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon described his car at the season-opening Gatornationals two weeks ago in Florida. The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Season resumes March 22-24, 2024, at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.

Consider:
No. 1 qualifier for the first time since 2020? Check.
Consistent race car with four race day runs with elapsed times within .03 seconds? Check.
Race win for the first time since 2020? Check.
First double win in Kalitta Motorsports history? Check.

That’s a pretty solid start to the season, and oh by the way, it was Brian Husen’s first race as Langdon’s crew chief…as anyone’s crew chief, although he spent the last two decades working with 14-time Top Fuel championship tuner Alan Johnson. Everything that happened to Langdon, Husen and their Kalitta Air Careers Toyota team at the season’s first race bodes extremely well for the season. And for Langdon to break a four-year winless streak is an added if not forgotten bonus.

“A lot of this sport is results driven,” Langdon said. “When you go on a drought for a couple of years, you hear all the crickets online; you take it with a grain of salt, keep your head down and keep working. I’m with a great organization. Connie (Team Owner Connie Kalitta) gives us the best of everything. He’s a great leader, he sets a great example, he takes care of all of his employees and takes them in as family so we really feel like we race as a family. It’s a great atmosphere.

“It feels really good to win that first race. You keep working hard because you know you’re with a bad-ass group like the Kalitta team with Connie leading the way and giving us the opportunity. I’ve been saying it since Gainesville, but I can’t say enough about Brian Husen. In his first race as a crew chief, he gave me an absolutely flawless car, and I knew if I didn’t screw it up, we’d be ok. Really, I just hit the gas and held on; it was a dream to drive. This new car is showing a lot of potential.

“There are just people you click with; dating back to 2012 when I started on the Al-Anabi team, Brian and I clicked from day one,” Langdon added. “I say something, he gets what I say. He says something, I understand what he says. We can have short conversations and just understand where each other is coming from; there’s nothing personal. I may say something chippy, he might, but at the end of the day, you’re in for the betterment of the team; we’re there to win races. We’ve just always gotten along really well. Even when the Al-Anabi deal went away, we stayed in touch. I’ve always had great respect for Brian so when it all came back around, and Brian got the opportunity, I got the phone call asking for my opinion. I said, ‘I don’t know why you’re calling me, of course it’s yes.’ I’m so proud of him and so happy for him.”

With race one and win one in the books, the series moves onto the track at which Langdon has more wins than any other. With four wins in seven In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip final rounds, he could easily be considered a favorite to win this weekend.

“Honestly, we have a lot of confidence going into Pomona, and we have a lot of confidence about the future of the team,” the 2013 Top Fuel champion said. “I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success at Pomona; it’s my home track, and I always look forward to racing there.”

When Langdon advanced to the semifinals on Sunday in Gainesville, he earned a spot in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge this weekend. During Saturday’s qualifying sessions in Pomona, the drivers who reached the Gatornationals semifinals will re-run the semifinals and final earning additional purse and championship bonus points. 

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“We are definitely looking forward to being a part of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge,” Langdon said. “It’s a great opportunity to run a race within a race, and it makes the Saturday qualifying rounds a little more interesting for the fans. We really appreciate everything Mission Foods is doing for our sport.”

This story was originally published on March 19, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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