I don’t want to be the weak link – Langdon

Shawn Langdon feels he thrives when racing with pressure, and if that’s the case, the Kalitta Motorsports driver has found some for himself in 2024.

“I felt like our car tested so well that I remember on one of the drives back to the hotel after leaving I said, ‘I better get my (expletive) together because I don’t want to be the weak link this year,’” Langdon said. “So, it’s already on my mind that we’re going to have a fast car, and the only way you lose on hole shots is if you have a fast car. So, I have to get back to the drawing board a little bit, and I have to get to work because it’s going to be a very competitive season; we have a lot of great drivers in our category right now.”

Langdon got a feel for his car at Bradenton Motorsports Park last month during the PRO Superstar Shootout. It was the first time he got to work with new crew chief Brian Husen – and in a race weekend situation – before the start of the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing season. The duo begins their pursuit of wins and the NHRA Top Fuel championship this weekend in the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville.


Husen moved onto Langdon’s dragster this offseason. He previously worked under the leadership of Alan Johnson on Doug Kalitta’s Mac Tools team, which won the 2023 Top Fuel championship.

Husen and Langdon have a history of working together at Alan Johnson Racing in 2013, but now, Husen is tasked with getting Landon back into the win column. Langdon has not won a Top Fuel event since 2020 and finished the 2023 season 12th in the championship standings. One of the goals this season will be making Langdon’s and Kalitta’s dragsters as identical as possible.

“That’s definitely the plan,” Husen said. “Alan and I have worked together so long that we kind of think the same and approach things the same, mostly because he taught me how to do that. In order to make the cars run the same, they have to be exactly the same. That’s what I spent most of the winter doing: making sure Doug’s car was prepared the way it needed to be prepared and then also training the new guys on Shawn’s car to make sure it’s prepared the way it needs to be.

“There were hundreds of things that went on over the winter, all with the goal of making the cars run the same. When we went to Bradenton, they pretty much ran the same so it appears all the hard work is paying off so far.”

Langdon had a win/loss record of 13-21 last season with 12 first round losses. Phoenix, the season’s second event, was Langdon’s only final round appearance. There is no denying from anyone involved it’s been a “trying” few years for Langdon and his team.

“We’re all competitive, right and when you’re struggling, at the end of the day, you sit here and say, ‘Man, I’m just thankful for the opportunity that I do get to race a Top Fuel car,’” Langdon said. “It’s a great opportunity and a great life. But it absolutely sucks when you go week in and week out and lose first round and just don’t feel like you’re quite there with the competition.”

Husen is one part of Langdon’s revamped team. And Langdon has nothing but praise for Husen, his racer’s mindset, and being the one who gets to drive his race cars.

“I think with some changes we were able to make, with Brian coming in, Brian is going to be able to turn that corner for us,” Langdon said. “It gives me a little bit of excitement coming into the season. I think, more importantly for me, though, I’m excited to have what I feel like is a competitive car this year. But I’m more excited for Brian to get the opportunity. He’s worked his butt off… and I’ve seen how hard he’s worked under (Alan Johnson).

“It’s just exciting for me to be able to be the driver that Brian gets to showcase his talent and everything he’s learned throughout the year. I get to be the driver who is able to show off a little bit for Brian in this opportunity.”

Langdon will have a chance to double up during the first race weekend of the year. Saturday in Gainesville, Langdon will be one of eight drivers participating in the Pep Boys All-Star Callout, where there is a prize of $80,000 for the winning driver.

Story originally appeared on Racer