COMMERCE, GA – May 2, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Returning to the site of his first career NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series win, Del Worsham hopes it provides a spark to a Funny Car season that has not yet gotten on track. After a first-round win at the opening race in Pomona in his 10,000-horsepower Lucas Oil Toyota Camry, Worsham has five straight first round losses, something he hopes to change at this weekend’s 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
The track was home to Worsham’s first Funny Car win in 1991 when a then 21-year-old Worsham was just beginning to make his mark. Now two world championships and 39 wins later, Worsham has established himself as one of the top drivers in NHRA history, and the longtime standout is eyeing Atlanta as the place to get his 2017 season going.
“It’s a great track, great fans, and it would be a great place to get the season ff to a good start and turn it around and feel like we’re heading in the right direction,” Worsham said. “It’s our sponsor’s race and that makes it fun. You know your car will be highlighted a little bit and you always want to run well for your sponsors. I feel like the car is running better and we’ve got four runs to put ourselves in a good position going into Sunday.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, May 7. It marks the seventh of 24 events during a season that started with Worsham making a big move.
He left Kalitta Motorsports, returning to his family-owned team with his father, Chuck Worsham. The early results have not been desirable, but strong test sessions after Las Vegas and Houston produced ideal solutions. Worsham liked the runs he made in Charlotte, which could translate into more consistency starting at the race in Atlanta to finish off a stretch of three straight events.
“There’s been a lot of unforeseen things take place and it’s taken a lot longer to sort out than I thought they would,” Worsham said. “But Charlotte was better for us and we’re really looking forward to Atlanta. We’re having to look past some of the old set-ups and forge towards a new set-up, and it’s been tough. We made some better runs in Charlotte and the info we got from that, I think it will really help in Atlanta.”
The good news is there has minimal damage to the car over the past two races and the stretch of three straight events should be good for the team’s rhythm. Of course, Worsham still has to compete with the elite in Funny Car, including points leader and defending champ Ron Capps, who has won two straight races, Matt Hagan and 16-time world champion John Force. But Worsham continues to treasure every moment of racing again with his father.
“It’s been great, spending time with my dad and team,” Worsham said. “Several crew members are crew members of the past, so that’s nice. I’m not going to lie, it can be frustrating. We all want success and we haven’t done that yet. But you know what you’re up against when you take a challenge like this, and it’s something we definitely want to take on. We’re looking forward to getting back on track and winning some rounds.”
Kalitta’s fourth Atlanta win tied him for most in Top Fuel history at the track. But back-to-back world champ Brown, and three-time 2017 winner and points leader Leah Pritchett pose stiff challenges.
Line’s second straight Pro Stock win at Atlanta helped his title run, but he will be pushed by season winners Greg Anderson, Bo Butner, Chris McGaha, Shane Gray and his son, rookie Tanner Gray.
Krawiec has Atlanta Pro Stock Motorcycle victories two of the past three years, but he’ll have to get past Andrew Hines, defending world champ Jerry Savoie and four-time winner Angelle Sampey.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its fourth of 12 stops in 2017 at Atlanta Dragway. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. After Nitro qualifying Friday, fans can watch the spectacular Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System, and Douthit Motorsports Black Pearl Nostalgia Jet Funny Car. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
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 get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:15 and 7:10 p.m. on Friday, May 5 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, May 6, at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 7.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
LUCAS OIL NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
WHAT: 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals, the seventh 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 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga. – I-85 to Exit 149 (Hwy 441). After exiting the freeway, go north on Highway 441 to Steven Tanger Blvd. Take a left on Tanger and then go right on Ridgeway Road.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, May 5-7
FRIDAY, May 5 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3:45 p.m. and 6 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 6 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 12:45 p.m. and Round 1 of eliminations at 3:15 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, May 7 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:00 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES eliminations 12:45 p.m.
Friday, May 5, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, May 6, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 1 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, May 7, FS1 will televise three hours of elimination highlights at 6 p.m. (ET).
2016 EVENT WINNERS: Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Antron Brown, 4, TF; Larry Dixon 4; Doug Kalitta 4; John Force, 7, FC; Warren Johnson, 5, PS; Dave Schultz 8 PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.731 sec. by Doug Kalitta, May ’16; 328.86 mph by Kalitta, May ‘14.
Funny Car – 3.906 sec. by Matt Hagan, May. ’16; 329.02 mph by Hagan, May. ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.493 sec. by Erica Enders, March ‘14; 213.00 mph by Jason Line, March ‘14.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.794 sec. and 197.54 mph by Eddie Krawiec., May ‘14.
Top Fuel – 3.658 sec. by Leah Pritchett, Feb. ‘17, Phoenix; 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: Order tickets by phone at (800) 884-6472. Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets
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 24 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 program 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; Gainesville Raceway 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