CONCORD, NC – April 14, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Del Worsham is used to making the most of big moments throughout his standout NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series career.
He grabbed the spotlight a year ago during the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, winning four races and claiming his first Funny Car world championship. Now in the midst of trying to defend his title in a loaded class, Worsham’s next big chance to shine comes at the most unique race on the NHRA circuit, the seventh annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods, April 22-24, at zMAX Dragway.
The one-of-a-kind spectacle features four 10,000-horsepower nitro machines powering down the track at one time, a scene that has become a hit with fans. Fresh off his second final round appearance of 2016, Worsham now hopes to claim his first NHRA Four-Wide Nationals win in Funny Car in his Kalitta Motorsports-owned DHL Toyota Camry.
With a victory, he would become the first driver to win the distinctive event in both nitro categories.
“It seems to be one of the ones that the fans enjoy, especially our TV audience,” said Worsham, who won the Four-Wide Nationals in Top Fuel in 2011. “We just (want) to continue to grow. Again, I am fortunate to have the same DHL team as last season, and every one of these guys knows their roles and how we got to the championship last season. We are going to continue to learn and race hard to be ready to run for the title once the Countdown hits.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (PSM) were last year’s Four-Wide winners. The race will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), with qualifying highlights on April 23 at 10 p.m. and finals coverage on April 24 at 4:30 p.m. It is also the fifth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and Worsham’s title defense has started strong.
A year after becoming just the third driver in NHRA history to win a world championship in Top Fuel and Funny Car, Worsham and his Kalitta Motorsports team haven’t slowed down. He advanced to the final round at Pomona’s Winternationals to start the season and then posted another final showing at the most recent event in Las Vegas, moving to third in points. All of this comes after the team properly celebrated the Funny Car world championship, as Worsham remains impressed with the drive of his team in 2016.
“The DHL team definitely has resolve,” said Worsham, who has 38 career victories. “We definitely celebrated the championship win like we should have, but when it was time to be focused, my team was focused and ready for the new season. It has been several seasons since anyone has repeated and we are aiming on doing just that.”
The Las Vegas race was particularly meaningful for Worsham, even in defeat. He lost to teammate Alexis DeJoria in what was the first final round matchup between the two Kalitta Motorsports drivers. It was also the first time in NHRA history that two Kalitta Motorsports Funny Cars reached a final round together.
It was a special moment and DeJoria said as much following the race, noting the tremendous impact Worsham has had on her career as a mentor and teammate. Hearing that meant just as much for the veteran Worsham, who was thrilled to deliver an all-Kalitta final round for team owner Connie Kalitta.
“Since 2013, when I got back in the seat, that is the goal that Alexis and I have been trying to reach,” Worsham said. “It was an incredible honor to hear those words from Alexis and be able to deliver something for the first time to Connie Kalitta. The man is a legend in the sport and there are not a lot of firsts still to reach, so I am glad I could be a part of that one.
“Team Kalitta has worked tirelessly in the offseason to not rest on our laurels, but continue to grow and get better. All four cars have run well, and are solid to start the season. Anyone can win each weekend and that is what we are trying to do.”
To get a second career NHRA Four-Wide Nationals victory, Worsham must again master the intricacies of four-lane racing. It can be a challenging endeavor for even the most experienced drivers, but Worsham also has to deal with the star-studded lineup in the Funny Car class.
Beckman, who won seven races a year ago and set the national record four times, picked up his second career Four-Wide Nationals win last year, while other top challengers include Winternationals winner Ron Capps, two-time Four-Wide Nationals winner and current points leader Robert Hight, Courtney Force, Matt Hagan, John Force, Tim Wilkerson and DeJoria. Worsham, though, remains confident heading into the highly-anticipated race.
“It is a unique event,” Worsham said. “The main difference is the staging, which you get back in the hang of very quickly. It is also odd because as a racer, you want to win. But with this format you can advance by finishing second till the final round. However, even though it is different, I think you have to treat it the same as any other race, because it counts the same as any other race.”
Reigning Top Fuel champion Brown, who won the most recent race in Las Vegas, will be looking for his third consecutive victory at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. J.R. Todd, who set the 3.713-second track record at the race last year, season-opening Winternationals winner Steve Torrence, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, recent first-time winner Brittany Force, Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican are among the top contenders for the Wally trophy.
In Pro Stock, Morgan pulled off an upset win over Greg Anderson in Charlotte last year. Anderson is riding some early season momentum with two wins this season. His teammate, Jason Line, also has two wins and is the current points leader. Defending world champ Erica Enders, who is looking for her first Four-Wide victory, will also be a favorite, along with Bo Butner, Vincent Nobile, last year’s top rookie Drew Skillman, Alex Laughlin, 2012 world champ Allen Johnson, Shane Gray and tough Texan Chris McGaha.
The sleek new Pro Stock cars feature fuel-injected engines, shorter wheelie bars, flat hoods and a 10,500 RPM rev-limiter.
The NHRA Four-Wide Nationals is the second stop on the Pro Stock Motorcycle schedule. Hines, who won the event last year by outrunning three-time world champion Eddie Krawiec, went on to claim the 2015 series title. Krawiec comes in as the points leader after winning the Gatornationals and will face off against the likes of Hector Arana Jr., who was the No. 1 qualifier and also set both ends of the track record at last year’s Four-Wide Nationals, Hector Arana Sr., alligator farmer Jerry Savoie, veteran rider Chip Ellis, 41-time winner Angelle Sampey, past Charlotte winner Steve Johnson and two-time world champion Matt Smith.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.
The 2015 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 23, at 2 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 24.
Be a part of the action all weekend with a Three-Day Pass to the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals starting at $107.
Tickets for children 13 and under are free with any paid adult ticket; to purchase general admission or reserved seats please visit www.zMAXDragway.com or call the box office at (800) 455-FANS (3267). For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: Sixth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, the fifth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: zMAX Dragway- Track is located on Hwy 29 off I-85 at exit 49 (Speedway Blvd.) in the Concord, N.C. area.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, April 22-24
COURSE: All-concrete four-wide championship dragstrip at an elevation of 630 feet. Track direction is southwest to northeast.
FORMAT: Qualifying sessions and elimination rounds will be conducted using four lanes in all Mello Yello Series classes; Lanes will be identified from left to right facing downtrack as 1-4; The standard Friday qualifying procedure of a top 12 format will not be in use; Two Christmas trees will be in use, one between each two lanes; The Compulink Autostart system will continue to be utilized and it will not activate until all four vehicles are pre-staged and one vehicle has staged; The ladder structure will feature Race A: qualifiers 1, 8, 9, 16, Race B: qualifiers 4, 5, 12, 13, Race C: qualifiers 2, 7, 10, 15, and Race D: qualifiers 3, 6, 11, 14; Race A and Race B will be on one side of the ladder, while Race C and Race D will be on the other; Lane choice for eliminations goes to the driver with the quickest E.T., then the second-quickest, and so on; The first two drivers in each elimination round to cross the finish line advance to the second round and final; In the final round, teams will finish in the order they cross the finish line (barring any red-light starts), with winner, runner-up and two semifinalists in that order.
FRIDAY, April 22 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 23 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2 and 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, April 24 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:30 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon
Saturday, April 23, Fox Sports 1 (FS1) will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, April 24, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Larry Morgan, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Antron Brown, 2, TF; Spencer Massey, 2, TF; Jack Beckman, 2, FC; Robert Hight, 2, FC; Greg Anderson, 2, PS; Mike Edwards, 2, PS; Andrew Hines, 2, PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.713 sec. by J.R. Todd, March ’15; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12.
Funny Car – 3.971 sec. by Tommy Johnson Jr., Sept. ’15; 322.27 mph by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’11.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15; 215.48 mph by Greg Anderson, March ’15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.794 sec. and 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.680 sec. by Antron Brown, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.879 sec. by Jack Beckman, March ‘16, Gainesville, Fla.; 331.45 mph by Matt Hagan, Nov. ’15, Pomona, Calif.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (800) 455-FANS. Tickets also are available online at www.zmaxdragway.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA – Point standings following the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Brittany Force, 307; 2. Antron Brown, 269; 3. Doug Kalitta, 267; 4. Steve Torrence, 249; 5. Clay Millican, 242; 6. J.R. Todd, 229; 7. Dave Connolly, 217; 8. Terry McMillen, 209; 9. Tony Schumacher, 190; 10. Leah Pritchett, 188.
1. Robert Hight, 341; 2. John Force, 294; 3. Ron Capps, 289; 4. Del Worsham, 283; 5. Jack Beckman, 271; 6. Courtney Force, 265; 7. Chad Head, 236; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 233; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 221; 10. Matt Hagan, 150.
1. Jason Line, 463; 2. Greg Anderson, 415; 3. Bo Butner, 331; 4. Drew Skillman, 264; 5. Chris McGaha, 214; 6. Allen Johnson, 212; 7. Jeg Coughlin, 191; 8. Vincent Nobile, 175; 9. Erica Enders, 171; 10. Alex Laughlin, 154.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 129; 2. Hector Arana, 99; 3. Andrew Hines, 79; 4. LE Tonglet, 74; 5. Chip Ellis, 62; 6. (tie) Michael Ray, 52; Jerry Savoie, 52; Jim Underdahl, 52; 9. Angelle Sampey, 35; 10. (tie) Scotty Pollacheck, 33. Melissa Surber, 33.