Memphis: Shawn Langdon preview

Langdon's goals are clear as playoffs roll on MEMPHIS (Sept. 30) -- Twenty races into his first professional campaign, Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon and his Lucas Oil/Dixie Chopper team have two clearly defined goals for the last four races of...

Langdon's goals are clear as playoffs roll on

MEMPHIS (Sept. 30) -- Twenty races into his first professional campaign, Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon and his Lucas Oil/Dixie Chopper team have two clearly defined goals for the last four races of the year -- do enough to earn Langdon the coveted Auto Club Rookie of the Year award and make a run at the 2009 title, which would pretty much take care of their first goal at the same time.

"It's obvious what we need to do," Langdon said. "We need to keep this car in the championship chase and we probably need to win a race or two. The good news is we have shown time and again that we have one of the best cars in the class. We've run low elapsed time of the round several times and in the first two playoff races we've had a runner-up and a semifinal finish so that's a pretty good average. We're so close."

After proving himself to be one of the best leavers in the business with an mean starting line reaction time that has been at or near the top of the charts all season, Langdon has matured into a steady raceday pilot behind the wheel of his 8,000-horsepower machine. Aside from his season-best runner-up result in Charlotte, he has seven semifinal finishes to his credit, which has helped him post a respectable raceday record of 24-20.

"I feel very fortunate to have come to a team that had been together and won together before," said Langdon, the back-to-back world champion in Super Comp, considered by many as the toughest Sportsman class in the sport. "My goal at the start of the season was to not embarrass myself and limit my mistakes. To be sitting here now with four races to go and have a legitimate chance to win it all is surreal. I'm a lucky guy.

"Racing for Morgan Lucas, who has been one of my good friends all the way back to when we were in school, is the best case scenario for me. I've had the best coach anyone could ask for. I've never asked him a question about these cars that he didn't have an answer for because he probably had the same thing happen to him in the past. It's so cool to have him 20 feet away on the other side of the pit."

Langdon also has learned the advantages of racing on a two-car team. Heading into this weekend's 22nd annual O'Reilly Midsouth Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park, Langdon is just 84 points off the Top Fuel lead in fifth place. Since there is such a tight bunch of drivers near the top of the rankings, a premium has been placed on gaining every tactical advantage available, especially this late in the year.

"Morgan stayed in Dallas on Monday and tested a bunch of things," Langdon said. "Of course, we share all our data with his team so we should see some immediate benefits this weekend. NHRA limited testing quite a bit this year so every test day is like gold. It's times like this when the heat is on that you can really help each other."

-credit: mlr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Morgan Lucas , Shawn Langdon