Starting line assassin: Langdon a perfect 16-0 on season St. LOUIS (April 26) -- Once the hours of work are finished and a Top Fuel dragster pulls to the starting line for a race, the focal point becomes the driver, who pilots the...
Starting line assassin: Langdon a perfect 16-0 on season
St. LOUIS (April 26) -- Once the hours of work are finished and a Top Fuel dragster pulls to the starting line for a race, the focal point becomes the driver, who pilots the 8,000-horsepower machine through a 3.8-second pass.
A key task is leaving the starting line ahead of the opposing driver, which shifts the advantage squarely into the lane of the pro with the quickest reaction time. In 2010, no one has proven more lethal at the line than sophomore racer Shawn Langdon, who has gotten a jump on all 16 men he's faced thus far in his Lucas Oil/Speedco dragster.
"It's a fun deal and I understand the media attention this little streak is creating but my focus has to stay on doing the best job I can when I'm in the car," Langdon said. "It's really just a fluke. It's impossible to keep something like that going forever.
"My job as a driver is to leave the starting line fast, keep the car in the groove, and be ready for anything that might go wrong, like the tires breaking free or a cylinder going out, which makes the car move around. To me, I'm just doing my job. The streak has just happened."
Langdon's success at the Christmas Tree is based in large part on his years in the sportsman ranks, where he's a two-time world champion. Reaction times are even more crucial to sportsman drivers as nearly every race is decided by thousandths of a second.
To that end, Langdon sharpened his skills last weekend at a bracket race in Bristol, Tenn., where he raced two different sportsman cars owned by John Ciccarone.
"It can only help to take the tree in competition as many times as possible," Langdon said. "Practice trees are great tools, but nothing replicates a real race."
A 27-year-old from Southern California who now resides in Indianapolis, Langdon raced to a semifinal finish his first time through Gateway International Raceway. He's hoping to continue his streak of quick reaction times this year, but is placing an even greater emphasis on winning elimination rounds on race day.
"I'd trade this streak for a win any time," he said. "We'll be in contention in St. Louis. It's just a matter of time until we get everything together and win one of these things."