Joliet: Shawn Langdon preview

Rookie Langdon progressing nicely as '09 rolls along CHICAGO (June 2) -- Halfway through the NHRA's regular season, billed the Countdown to 10, rookie Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon has distinguished himself as a killer on the starting line and a...

Rookie Langdon progressing nicely as '09 rolls along

CHICAGO (June 2) -- Halfway through the NHRA's regular season, billed the Countdown to 10, rookie Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon has distinguished himself as a killer on the starting line and a legitimate race day threat.

"He's one of the best young drivers I've seen in a long time," veteran racer Cory McClenathan said. "I'm just hoping I can steal away a few more wins and maybe a championship before guys like Shawn take this sport over for good."

That's high praise for the 26-year-old driver of the Lucas Oil/Dixie Choppers dragster. After all, McClenathan has been plying his trade for many years now and is one of the most successful drag racers in history.

"It's humbling to hear guys like Cory say things like that," Langdon said. "That guy has been one of my heroes since I was racing Junior Dragsters as a little boy. The fact I even get to line up next to him in a Top Fuel race is an honor. Some times I have to pinch myself to make sure this isn't all a dream."

Many of Langdon's competitors probably wish it was a dream. With four semifinal appearances in the last five events and an encouraging 11-9 race day record thus far, Langdon is a win waiting to happen. His initial goal of making the Countdown to 1 field in early September is looking more and more realistic as the races click by and there are whispers that he's becoming a bit of a darkhorse for a championship run.

"I'm not looking any farther than this weekend's race in Chicago," said Langdon, the back-to-back world champion in Super Comp. "I'm still learning stuff every pass and my focus remains on not making any mistakes when I'm in the car. John Stewart, my crew chief, and the guys on this Lucas Oil team have been so cool to me. They've been a huge help and having a teammate like Morgan Lucas 20 feet away, for someone to talk to about anything at all, has been huge. I'm a lucky guy."

Langdon and Lucas are tied for sixth in the Full Throttle points heading into this weekend's 12th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. Another solid showing could lift either of them into the top five.

"I'm the new guy on the team," Langdon said. "The rest of these guys have won before and they all know what they're doing. Every week I climb into that dragster knowing I have a car that can win the race. That's all a driver can ask for. It's a great feeling. I want to pay these guys back in the worse way possible and the easiest way to do that is to win them a race."

-credit: mlr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Cory McClenathan , Morgan Lucas , Shawn Langdon