Pomona: Shawn Langdon preview

Langdon cherishes his spot among legends at 50th annual Winternationals POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 7) -- As the NHRA prepares to conduct one of its most historic drag races ever, sophomore Lucas Oil Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon finds it hard to...

Langdon cherishes his spot among legends at 50th annual Winternationals

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 7) -- As the NHRA prepares to conduct one of its most historic drag races ever, sophomore Lucas Oil Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon finds it hard to believe he'll actually be competing in the 50th annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

Growing up just south of the racetrack in the farming community of Mira Loma, Langdon guesses he's attended 15 or so Winternationals as a fan, pseudo crewmember for his dad, and Sportsman racer. But to be at the race for the second year in a row as one of the professional stars of the sport is something he struggles to wrap his mind around.

"Dad was a sportsman racer so most of my memories of the Winternationals are of coming here with him and parking way back in the pits," Langdon said. "Me and my buddies would walk over to the pro pits and make sure we got all the pro's autographs.

"Looking back, I was such a shy kid. I can remember guys like Joe Amato, John Force, Cory McClenathan, and Mike Dunn signing my shirt or something and they'd always try to talk to me but I'd just get their autograph and run off. Later on I'd be like, 'Oh man, he was trying to talk to me and I blew him off.' I was just in awe of these guys. I'd freeze up."

It was that early experience that inspires the now 27-year-old three-time world champion racer to make sure he spends a little extra time with his youngest admirers. After all, he might be racing them one day.

"The NHRA is like that, where people grow up around it and then end up racing," Langdon said. "Whenever kids come by I always try to talk with them and get them to smile, especially the ones that are kinda shy because I know what that's like.

"It's very humbling to think someone wants my autograph. I still feel like that same little kid I used to be. I mean, I look at all the legends they've invited back for this year's race and I'm thinking there are still a lot of autographs I need to get!"

Langdon will have to work hard to find free time to flag down signatures. As driver of the flagship Lucas Oil/Speedco dragster, he expects to have a full house of guests in his team's expansive Corporate Hospitality area, which he shares with teammate and car owner Morgan Lucas, driver of the GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster.

"Lucas Oil has a huge operation in Corona and we're expecting all our friends from headquarters to come over and support the team," Langdon said. "There are also lots of folks from Toyota in Southern California, plus we're bringing Speedco Truck Lube and MavTV into our family this year. It should be a big weekend.

"Morgan and me both went down to South Florida and tested a few weeks back and the cars were running great. Credit the crew guys for working hard this off-season, especially since they had to move our race shop as well. I know everyone is fired up to start the year and run as strong as possible right out of the gate in Pomona. That's the plan."

-source: morgan lucas racing

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