Shawn Langdon finds a six-race home at Don Schumacher Racing
In the past 24 hours, rumors have swirled about the future of Shawn Langdon, driver of Alan Johnson Racing’s (AJR) Top Fuel dragster, who entered the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs seeded in sixth place.
Where would he race? Would he go with Steve Torrence or Morgan Lucas’ eponymous race teams? Would he sit out these six races so that the field might narrow from 10 to nine top Fuel candidates for the championship that culminates at Pomona in mid-November? What would happen to the native Californian champion, who earned his Top Fuel title with Johnson in 2013?
The intrigue grew stronger when one considered that Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), AJR’s prime competitor with three dragsters, four Funny Cars and a huge shop just across the street from theirs in Brownsburg, Ind., had recently fired driver Spencer Massey. At the recent Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, DSR secured former AJR driver Khalid alBalooshi to drive their third dragster; alBalooshi’s 2015 competition, until that Labor Day weekend, had been in Pro Mod, where he continues to compete.
Today the two teams negotiated an agreement allowing Langdon to race in the Countdown in Schumacher’s Red Fuel Powered by Schumacher/Sandvik Coromant rail for the full playoff series. Although he remains under contract to Alan Johnson and the AJR team, Langdon will now work with DSR as though he were this dragster’s regular driver. When the 2015 is complete, Langdon returns to Alan Johnson Racing and resumes his duties. Of course, terms of the agreement were not made public.
“To start the season with Alan Johnson Racing and finish it at Don Schumacher Racing is definitely a unique situation,” Langdon remarked. “Everyone at AJR gave it 110-percent all season trying to contend for the championship. It was just unfortunate that we couldn’t find enough funding,” despite support from Toyota Motor Sales and Guy Fieri’s Knuckle Sandwich brand.
“After everything happened, there was an opportunity to race with Don Schumacher Racing to finish the season. It’s a unique opportunity, but I think it’s a good fit for everyone at DSR as well as for Alan and me. It’s great for the fans to be able to have 10 cars competing for the championship; it’s good for NHRA and, at this point, I think it’s good for everybody,” Langdon concluded.
Don Schumacher, in addition to fielding the top two seeds in Top Fuel (eight-time champion Tony Schumacher and 2012 titleholder Antron Brown), has four Funny Car entries in the Countdown to the Championship, including the top three seeds: Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan and Tommy Johnson Jr.; Ron Capps lies sixth in that title chase.
“Alan and I were able to work this out and it benefits everyone,” Don Schumacher stated. “Our NHRA fans certainly should see the 10 best drivers battle it out in the Countdown and we are excited that Shawn and our Red Fuel/Sandvik team will be in the fight.”
The first race of those six, and the first of three straight races in NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship takes place this weekend on the zMax Dragway strip next to Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. The Mello Yello series races at St. Louis (Gateway) next weekend and in Reading (Maple Grove) the first weekend of October before a two-week break. A race at Dallas precedes another short breather before the final two west coast events at Las Vegas and Pomona.
By Anne Proffit