Langdon Crossing Over To Funnier Stuff

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 13 2017

Shawn Langdon is heading to Funny Cars. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series)

ENNIS, Texas – Shawn Langdon’s tenure as an NHRA Top Fuel driver is down to its final three races, but this is a good thing.

Kalitta Motorsports announced Friday that Langdon, the 2013 NHRA Top Fuel world champion, will compete in the Funny Car category beginning with the 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Langdon’s primary sponsor, Global Electronic Technology, also will make the class switch to Langdon’s Toyota Camry.

“I’m definitely excited about this new adventure,” Langdon said in a statement released by Team Kalitta during first-round qualifying for the 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex. “I’m very thankful to Steve and Samantha Bryson and everyone at Global Electronic Technology for standing behind me as a driver and everyone at Team Kalitta for giving me this opportunity.”

Langdon’s switch was the second major announcement this week by the team founded and owned by drag racing icon Conrad “Connie” Kalitta. On Monday, Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patron Toyota Funny Car, announced she planned to retire at season’s end to spend more time with her family in Austin, Texas.

Langdon will not have to look far for advice about running a “flopper.” The 35-year-old native of Mira Loma, Calif., will be a teammate to J.R. Todd, who moved from Top Fuel to Funny Car prior to this season.  Todd replaced 2015 Funny Car world champion Del Worsham in the DHL Toyota, the car and livery most closely associated with the late Scott Kalitta, Connie’s son.

“I’m a little nervous because I feel like I’ll be starting from square one,” said Langdon, who began Round 4 of the six-race Countdown to the Championship here 10th and last in Top Fuel points. “Funny Car is very new to me. I’m going to work with J.R. on everything that he has learned on the Funny Car side and look to continue to grow as a driver.”

Langdon stood sixth in the provisional qualifying order after completion of the first two of four rounds of time trials down former Funny Car racer Billy Meyer’s all-concrete Motorplex surface. His best 1,000-foot pass was 3.748-seconds at 320.13 mph. Connie Kalitta and assistant Rob Flynn are tuning Langdon’s Top Fueler.

Langdon will have the opportunity to become the 17th driver in NHRA history to raise a Wally Trophy in both nitro classes. He also could become only the fourth driver to win Top Fuel and Funny Car world championships, an elite list featuring Kenny Bernstein, the “King of Speed,” Gary Scelzi and Worsham.

Langdon made his NHRA professional debut in Top Fuel in 2009 after winning Super Comp national championships in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series in 2007 and 2008. A standout baseball player in high school, he also won the National Jr. Dragster title in the 14-year-old category in 1997.

In 2013 Langdon added a victory in the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals _ drag racing’s oldest event _ to his list of accomplishments en route to the Top Fuel world championship.  Langdon won seven races and seven poles during his championship run as well as the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout. He is the first driver to win championships in the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League, the Lucas Oil NHRA Drag Racing Series and the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

In 202 career Top Fuel starts, Langdon has scored 14 victories, 18 No. 1 qualifiers and 239 round-wins. He has qualified for the Countdown playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, including a fifth-place point finish after winning three races in 2016.

“We’re really excited about Shawn making the switch over to Funny Car,” said Jim Oberhofer, vice president of operations, Kalitta Motorsports. “It was a no-brainer for us; very similar to putting J.R. in the DHL Toyota. That team competes to win races and championships. Shawn is a very talented driver and we know he will achieve much success in the 2018 season. We’re thrilled and thankful that Steve and Samantha Bryson and Global Electronic Technology agreed with this decision.”

Langdon’s Funny Car will be tuned by 2015 championship co-crew chief Nicky Boninfante and 2011 title-winner Tommy DeLago, both currently working with DeJoria. Todd’s DHL Camry will continue to be led by the championship-winning duo of Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith.

Global Electronic Technology joined Team Kalitta as Langdon’s primary backer in late April at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas, and announced an extension to the deal for the 2018 season at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend. Based in Torrance, Calif., Global Electronic Technology offers clients over a quarter century of expertise in the payment processing industry.

“Were it not for the fine crew of Kalitta Motorsports and my own team at Global Electronic Technology, we would not be where we are today,” said Steve Bryson, founder/CEO of the company. “I cannot express my happiness and gratitude enough for my ‘second childhood’ in auto racing with the finest people in America.”

Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports competes in the NHRA’s Top Fuel and Funny Car ranks. For more than 50 years, Connie “The Bounty Hunter” Kalitta has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner and owner. Kalitta Motorsports is one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing with six world championships and over 100 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.

Team Kalitta currently fields five fulltime entries in NHRA’s nitro classes. In addition to Langdon, Todd and DeJoria, Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster. Former Rookie of the Year winner Richie Crampton drives the SealMaster Top Fueler. For the record, Connie Kalitta serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 13 2017
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