Bristol: Shawn Langdon preview

Langdon in the dark about racing at night BRISTOL, Tenn. (May 11) -- As hard as it is to comprehend, it takes a rookie Top Fuel racer several full passes down the drag strip before their mind actually catches up with what they're experiencing ...

Langdon in the dark about racing at night

BRISTOL, Tenn. (May 11) -- As hard as it is to comprehend, it takes a rookie Top Fuel racer several full passes down the drag strip before their mind actually catches up with what they're experiencing in real time. It's simply part of the learning process of wrangling an 8,000-horsepower dragster through a 3.8-second, 315-mph journey.

Former two-time Sportsman world champion Shawn Langdon, the hand-picked driver of the Lucas Oil/Dixie Choppers dragster, made the move from 175-mph Super Comp dragsters to Top Fuel in February. To date, he's made about 30 full passes in his new car, including licensing, qualifying, and race day action.

"I'm feeling really good in the car lately," Langdon said. "I've gone from trying my best not to screw up to actually racing the car. I can go back to Stewie (crew chief John Stewart) after a run now and tell him exactly what happened. I feel like I've experienced most of the things these cars do."

All that will change this Friday when the 26-year-old So-Cal product arrives at Bristol Dragway for the ninth annual Thunder Valley Nationals, which will feature nighttime qualifying with the Food City "Qualifying Under The Lights" experience.

"I'm a little nervous," Langdon said candidly. "I've never driven a Top Fuel car at night. We've had a few runs at dusk but not when it's totally dark. It's going to be pretty wild.

"I qualified No. 1 once in Las Vegas on a night run when I was driving Morgan's (Lucas, teammate) Top Alcohol Dragster, but that's it for my nighttime experience. It's another something new I'm going to have to learn."

At least Langdon will be lighting up the sky with 10-foot header flames at his favorite racetrack.

"I always get asked what's my favorite track, and I always answer Bristol," said Langdon, who won the last two Super Comp world titles. "I've only raced there once and a didn't even do that great but the track is just so cool. You're down in the valley and the stands seem to go on forever. Then you get all the noise echoing around. There is no better place to see a drag race."

Langdon currently is ranked seventh in the Full Throttle points. He'll try to improve that spot and experience yet another first this weekend with an inaugural trip to the pro winner's circle. "We have the team to do it," he said.

-credit: lor

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shawn Langdon