Late in the 2012 NHRA season, Shawn Langdon, one of two new drivers in the Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel camp last year, earned his first career win at Charlotte in the first race of the Countdown to the Championship. He’s hoping that late-season momentum carries into the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season as he returns to his home track, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in California, for the NHRA Winternationals.
“I love racing at Pomona,” said Langdon. “As a kid growing up in Mira Loma, I got to go watch the Top Fuel drivers because when I got good grades in school, my Dad would take me to the races as a reward. I got to see the drivers and get their autographs, and it was a special part of my life. Now, I get that “home” feeling every time I fly into the Ontario airport and drive to the race track. I lived there for 25 years, and it’ll always be a special place for me. It’s always great to see friends and family when we race at Pomona, and everyone’s really excited to go out there and watch us so hopefully we can get the season started with a win. Putting that Al-Anabi car into the winner’s circle at the first race of the season would be the perfect way to start the year, and it would be great to enjoy it with my family. They were my supporters from day one, so it would be special to win a race with them watching.”
The 2012 season got off to a slow start for Langdon, but as he got more comfortable, success began to show: in addition to his first win, he also earned five No. 1 qualifiers, and led drivers in reaction time average and first-leave percentage. Langdon finished fourth in points, something he wants to improve on this season.
“Winning the first race of the Countdown really built my confidence as a driver,” said Langdon. “Just being in the Countdown brings you a different mentality as a driver – everything is on the line. There is no room to make mistakes. You have to be the best every single time you get up there, and you don’t want to let your team down, especially after how hard they worked throughout the year.”
“We had high expectations last year,” continued Langdon. “We wanted to win the championship and every race we went to. But we got our first victory out of the way, finished fourth, and that’s nothing to hang your head about. Last year is only feeding our hunger for this next year.”
The 53rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries kicks off the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Thursday through Sunday, February 14th through 17th – follow this weekend’s action at www.nhra.com and on the NHRA Twitter page.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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