LAS VEGAS, NV – October 25, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Del Worsham’s chances for a second straight Funny Car world title took a hit with a pair of close losses at St. Louis and Maple Grove Raceway during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
But Worsham, who trails points leader Ron Capps by 145 points, still has plenty left to accomplish this season in his 10,000-horsepower DHL Toyota Camry. On that immediate list is picking up a second win in three years at this weekend’s 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I think our mindset doesn’t change,” said Worsham, who is currently fifth in points. “The DHL Toyota team is going to continue to try to win races. You can’t control the outcome of the other teams, just your own. The Toyota Nationals have been a good race for us. Winning here in 2014 was a big breakthrough and finishing a season strong is always good for morale and confidence going into the next season.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will for the first time be aired on FOX Sports 1 this October. On Sunday, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET). It is the fifth of sixth races in the Countdown to the Championship and the penultimate race of the 2016 season and it’s always an important one for Worsham, a Chino Hills, Calif. native.
Worsham hasn’t been able to replicate last year’s thrilling Countdown to the Championship run, where he won four races en route to the Funny Car championship, but the veteran standout knows there still is time to chalk up two impressive victories.
“The last two events of the NHRA Mello Yello season are huge races that I get very excited for,” said Worsham, who has 39 career wins. “For one, they are close to my home in Southern California. Also, they are in the fall where temperatures and track conditions are optimum. We have been racing the entire season and our cars are really dialed in. There is a good chance that we will have record times and very close racing.”
Worsham is no stranger to record-breaking racing, setting a national E.T. record at the time late last year during his championship run. Worsham, one of just three drivers in NHRA history to win both a Funny Car and Top Fuel world championship, set a career-best with a 3.832 this year at Seattle and has hopes of getting back to that level after a first-round loss in St. Louis and a quarterfinal exit at Maple Grove in the playoffs.
That likely derailed a chance for a second straight world title, but Worsham bounced back with a semifinal showing in Dallas. Championship or not, Worsham and his team, led by crew chiefs Nick Bonifante and Jon Oberhofer, know the importance of doing well this weekend. The Toyota-sponsored race makes it an important one for the Kalitta Motorsports team and the group’s success at the event speaks to that.
“Toyota is a huge partner for Kalitta Motorsports, and we want to do well when a lot of the executives are onsite,” Worsham said. “We won the Toyota Nationals in ’14, Doug won last season and J.R. (Todd) won the Toyota-sponsored race in Sonoma earlier this season, so as a team we have a good track record going at Toyota-backed events and we would love that trend to continue.”
Defending Top Fuel winner Kalitta will need another victory to try to track down points leader and reigning world champion Antron Brown, who has three wins in the Countdown and holds a 150-point advantage over Kalitta.
Enders clinched her second straight Pro Stock championship a year ago with a Vegas win, but this season has belonged to teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson. Points leader Line has eight wins in 2016 and Anderson, who is 26 points back, has seven.
Hines’ Vegas victory in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 2015 helped clinched a second straight title but he trails teammate and points leader Eddie Krawiec by 17 points.
The NHRA Toyota Nationals also features competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. As always, fans 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.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying feature two rounds at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, and two final rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-644-4444 or 702-644-4444. Tickets available online at www.lvms.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more info visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS
WHAT: 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals, the 23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the fifth of six
playoff races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. 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: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas. Track is located approximately 15 miles north of Las Vegas off I-15.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 2,100 feet above sea level; Track direction is south to north.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 27-30
THURSDAY, Oct. 27 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Oct. 28 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, Oct. 29 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1:30 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 5:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Nov. 1 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:15 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, Oct. 28, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise one hour of live qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Oct. 30, FS1 will air one hour of qualifying coverage at 10 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Oct. 30, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Andrew Hines, PSM, 5; Greg Anderson, PS, 4; Ron Capps, FC, 4; Tony Schumacher, TF, 4; John Force, FC, 3.
Top Fuel – 3.722 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’15 and 332.67 mph by Shawn Langdon, Oct. ’15.
Funny Car – 3.931 sec. by Tommy Johnson Jr., Oct. ’15 and 325.92 mph by Del Worsham, Oct. ’15.
Pro Stock – 6.559 sec. and 210.28 mph by Erica Enders, Oct. ’15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.852 sec. by Jerry Savoie, Oct. ’15; 196.56 mph by Eddie Krawiec, Oct. ’11
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
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: For tickets call (800) 644-4444, or visit www.LVMS.com.
ENNIS, TX — Point standings (top 10) following the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, the 22nd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Antron Brown, 2,504; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2,354; 3. Shawn Langdon, 2,332; 4. Brittany Force, 2,313; 5. Steve Torrence, 2,307; 6. Tony Schumacher, 2,295; 7. J.R. Todd, 2,260; 8. Leah Pritchett, 2,250; 9. Richie Crampton, 2,195; 10. Clay Millican, 2,168.
1. Ron Capps, 2,465; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,401; 3. Matt Hagan, 2,377; 4. Jack Beckman, 2,334; 5. Del Worsham, 2,320; 6. Robert Hight, 2,278; 7. John Force, 2,267; 8. Courtney Force, 2,238; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,228; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,151.
1. Jason Line, 2,454; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,428; 3. Vincent Nobile, 2,340; 4. Shane Gray, 2,320; 5. Bo Butner, 2,314; 6. Drew Skillman, 2,269; 7. Chris McGaha, 2,222; 8. Allen Johnson, 2,213; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 2,146; 10. Erica Enders, 2,135.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Eddie Krawiec, 2,425; 2. Andrew Hines, 2,408; 3. Jerry Savoie, 2,376; 4. Angelle Sampey, 2,365; 5. Chip Ellis, 2,328; 6. LE Tonglet, 2,288; 7. Cory Reed, 2,229; 8. Hector Arana, 2,211; 9. Matt Smith, 2,202; 10. Hector Arana Jr, 2,183.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association