Brandon Bernstein joins Lucas Racing

Veteran Top Fuel dragster racer Brandon Bernstein will drive for Morgan Lucas Racing in 2012, team officials announced Wednesday.

He will take over the MavTV/Lucas Oil dragster that Shawn Langdon drove last season. Langdon has moved to Al Anabi Racing to replace Larry Dixon in 2012.

"Brandon is the total package," team owner and driver Morgan Lucas said in a team press release. "He brings an amazing presence, a professional attitude and a tremendous fan following to this race team, not to mention his obvious ability behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster. He's the perfect choice to fill the seat and represent our sponsors."

Bernstein, 39, raced nine seasons for the team owned by his famous father, six-time NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein. But Kenny decided to shut down the operation after the 2011 season.

"Racing with my dad was a dream come true," Bernstein said in a statement. "Now I have a very unique chance to race with my second family. We raced with the Lucas Oil brand on our cars for many years and it's great to come back into the fold. I feel an immense amount of gratitude to them for giving me this chance."

Bernstein has 18 Top Fuel victories and has finished in the top seven in the standings each of the last eight seasons. Bernstein ranks fifth among active Top Fuel drivers in total victories, and is tied for 10th with Shirley Muldowney on the all-time list for Top Fuel wins.

"I'm honored to have this chance," Bernstein said. "It was a stressful holiday season, to be honest, as I accessed the limited opportunities out there. It wasn't much fun, until today. Morgan and I grew up out here together. It's a very comfortable feeling here."

Lucas said he chose Bernstein for what he does outside the car as much as what he can do in the car.

"Drag racing requires a lot of its drivers," Lucas said. "The part where you're actually driving the car is only a small piece of what it takes. Brandon also knows how to interact with the media and the fans. He's a real pro and that was a big part of why he was selected.

"The fact we're longtime friends also was important. Brandon's a family man with strong values. He's the perfect choice to drive this car."

Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com.