A week after Kalitta Racing teammates J.R. Todd and Shawn Langdon squared off in the final round at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, the duo lined up against one another in their Funny Cars in a parking lot in Gastonia, N.C., that went viral among drag race fans after it was posted on the Kalitta Racing social media.
It wasn’t a drag race but a throttle-whacking competition between the DHL and Global Electronics teams during a fire-up in front of employees from one of their sponsors, Wix Filters. Teams used to whack the throttle during warmups in the pits, much to the delight of the fans, but that practice fell out of favor, denying fans a real treat.
“We got to whack the throttle back and forth close to a dozen times so that pretty cool,” Todd said. “Jon [Oberhofer, crew chief] finally said, ‘That’s enough’ because I think we’d probably still be there doing them. That was fun.
“When I first started driving nitro cars, everyone was still whacking the throttle. People like Shawn never got to do that, so it was cool to do that together.”
Todd, who was runner-up at this event last weekend, enters this year’s race as a recent runner-up behind Langdon, and would love to face his teammate in the final again, with the opposite results. This season, Langdon owns a 2-1 advantage on Todd.
“I try to get pumped up for everyone,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s your teammate or your mom or John Force, you have to treat them all the same and rip their head off. But Shawn is one of the best leavers in the sport, and you always have to be on your game.
Todd’s runner-up boosted him from seventh to fifth, and there’s still work to do, but after reaching at least the semifinals in the last three races, he’s making up ground despite not reaching the winner’s circle.
“We just need to keep racking up those round wins and points because if we’re in the finals or the semifinals, that probably means we’re gaining on the guys in front of us, and that’s what we need to do to keep the No. 1 on the side of the car.”