Langdon Gets A Heartening Win In Concord

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 29 2019
Shawn Langdon’s talked about his emotional Funny Car victory with nephew Caden Casner at his side. (Photo by John Davison)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – Five-year-old Caden Casner told his mother he knew his uncle Shawn Langdon would grab his first NHRA Funny Car victory Sunday in the NGK Spark Plugs 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. After all, he could feel it in his heart.

And the youngster’s heart proved true. On Sunday, Langdon became the 17th different driver in NHRA history to win in both Funny Car and Top Fuel, and the second to accomplish the feat at zMAX Dragway.

“To get this win is very gratifying,” said Langdon, who had been winless since 2016 at St. Louis when he recorded his 14th Top Fuel victory.

“There are so many things going on in my life right now I just sat in the car, closed my eyes and said, ‘Just one time, man, just one time. Give me that one time right here. I need to use it.’”

Langdon got that “one time.”

His performance Sunday marked the end of a 30-day period that probably had been one of the most emotionally draining and gratifying for the Langdon family. On March 29, the 36-year-old Langdon’s father, Chad, underwent a liver transplant at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. It was the procedure the Super Gas/Super Comp-racing Langdon needed to strike a fatal blow to the cancer he was battling. The surgery marked the end to more than a year of teases and disappointments that people awaiting a transplant often face. While the elder Langdon and his wife remain in Mebane, N.C., near Durham, Shawn has split his time between family and profession.

“I drove out here early, Wednesday and Thursday,” the Indiana resident said. “I drove up to Mebane and spent a couple of days with him. We went for a couple of walks and we talked about a lot of different things. He’s pretty low key. He told me to just do what I do. He’s been around long enough that I think he understands how the waves of drag racing go.”

 Langdon entered Sunday’s elimination round as the No. 5 qualifier. In the first and semifinal quads, Langdon advanced with second-place finishes. When he entered the final round the Kalitta Motorsports driver found himself facing three drivers possessing a total of 20 Funny Car championships. For many, it would have been an intimidating field, but not Langdon. With an elapsed time of 4.125 seconds, 305.08 mph, Langdon emerged the victor over runner-up and No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight.

“The reason I am sitting here is because of the people I have been surrounded by,” Langdon said during his post-race interview. “I was up in Richie (Crampton’s) lounge the other day. We have a simulator up there and I was working on my reaction times. Connie (Kalitta) took time out of his day and he sat down on the couch next to me. He said he wanted to make sure I was hitting the tree good. He sat there, watched me and gave me a couple of little pointers.

“I bounce ideas off of J.R. (Todd) all the time. Del (Worsham) told me I couldn’t drift in the final (round like I did in the semifinal). He told me I needed to tame down the steering a little bit because if it’s a hot track and if you do it like that, it’s going to smoke the tires again.

“Just working with these guys has really elevated my game.”

Langdon promised his dad he would get him a Wally, the name given to the NHRA trophy, and on Sunday at zMAX Dragway he kept his promise.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 29 2019
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