Spread the word: Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon is back — and in a big way

(Photos courtesy Toyota Racing)

JOLIET, Illinois — Shawn Langdon has really been putting the Top in Top Fuel recently.

After a dismal 0-5 start, including not advancing past the first round until the sixth race of 2016, Langdon has been red-hot of late.

The 2013 NHRA Top Fuel champ comes into this weekend’s K&N Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway riding a two-race winning streak.

But that’s just part of a bigger story.

In addition to wins in the last two NHRA national events – Bristol, Tennessee and Norwalk, Ohio – Langdon is 14-4 in round victories over the last six races and has reached the semi-finals or finals in four of the last six NHRA national events.

What’s more, he’s jumped up to sixth in the Top Fuel point standings. And, even though he is 298 points behind series leader Doug Kalitta, Langdon is less than 20 points away from cracking the top-five in the Top Fuel ranks.

Shawn Langdon after his first win of the season last month at Bristol, Tennessee.
Shawn Langdon after his first win of the season last month at Bristol, Tennessee.

“It’s unbelievable,” Langdon said recently about his success of late. “From where we started at the beginning of the year with this Red Fuel Toyota team with all the changes that we made through the first couple of races – all the test sessions, this is what we worked for.”

After the first five races, Langdon and the rest of his Don Schumacher Racing team had to reevaluate as things obviously weren’t working.

“We kind of had to take a step back,” Langdon admitted. “We started to progress the car and had a better car, but we just weren’t getting the luck on Sunday. We just kept the mentality that we have to ride the waves.

“Drag racing is very streaky. You’re going to have the highs and the lows, but you have to not get too down from the lows and not just soak in all the highs. You have to continue to work and that’s what these guys have done.”

Winning at Bristol and Norwalk capped off a run of four races in a row. Now, after a weekend off, this weekend’s race is the start of the six-race run-up to the NHRA’s six-race championship playoff, the Countdown to the Championship.

In other words, crunch time has started towards determining who will be the 2016 Top Fuel champ.

“We’re reaping the benefits of all the hard work,” Langdon said. “We’re starting to see a little bit of luck go our way. When you have a good car like we do right now, it puts a little more pressure on the other teams.

“They have to start pushing their cars. So rather than seeing a good race at the finish line, we’re starting to see teams smoke some tires and take some chances against us. It’s a good feeling and I’m just happy to be a part of this team.”

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IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”