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Worsham Adds Funny Car Championship To His Nitro Resume

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 16 2015
The NHRA crowned its 2015 champions on Sunday. They are, top row, Del Worsham (Funny Car) and Antron Brown (Top Fuel). Bottom are Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock).

The NHRA crowned its 2015 champions on Sunday. They are, top row, Del Worsham (Funny Car) and Antron Brown (Top Fuel). Bottom are Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock).

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Drag-racing “lifer” Del Worsham ignited an extended version of Kalitta Motorsports’ signature mosh-pit starting line celebration Sunday at Auto Club Raceway, an emotional tribute to Connie and Scott Kalitta and his own stellar 25-year career.

Worsham claimed his second NHRA world championship, and first in Funny Car, with a semifinal win over archrival Jack Beckman en route to victory in the 51st annual Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. Worsham, who won the Top Fuel title in 2011, became just the third driver in NHRA history to capture world championships in both nitro categories, joining Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi.

“I can’t say enough about the entire Kalitta Motorsports team,” said Worsham, who returned to the Funny Car ranks in the flopper fielded by drag racing legend Connie Kalitta in 2013. “They really haven’t made a mistake since September. We raced for Scott, Connie and the entire Kalitta Motorsports team.”

Scott Kalitta, Connie’s son, was fatally injured in a Funny Car crash at Old Bridge

Del Worsham won the Funny Car championship in style on Sunday as he beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round of eliminations in Pomona.

Del Worsham won the Funny Car championship in style on Sunday as he beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round of eliminations in Pomona.

Township Raceway Park Englishtown, N.J., on June 21, 2008. The Top Fuel world champion in 1994-95 and winner of 17 national events in Top Fuel and one in Funny Car, Scott was 46-years-old.

“Every time I get in this DHL Toyota Camry, I think about Scott Kalitta and what he sacrificed,” said Worsham, whose car still carries Scott’s name on its side windows. “And we couldn’t have done it without Toyota, they supported us in every way _ emotionally, technically, you name it _ everyone at TRD and TMS. I went eight years without a win at one point, so for it all to come together like this is really special.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Hines claimed his second consecutive and fifth overall world championship in Pro Stock Motorcycle when his closest rival, Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie, lost in the second round.

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) joined Worsham in the winner’s circle at the final playoff race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Worsham drove to his title on a day when Don Schumacher Racing drivers Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps all kept lowering the national elapsed time record for 1,000-feet. Beckman ultimately claimed the 20-point bonus for the record at 3.884-seconds, but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Worsham.

“When I put this trophy next to my other one at home it will be real,” said Worsham, who earned $500,000 from NHRA and Mello Yello for the championship. “Every time I looked up there was a Schumacher car sitting there in my face.”

Worsham powered past two-time world champion Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight, the 2009 world champ, in earlier rounds before defeating Johnson Jr. in the final to claim his fourth victory of the season and 38th of his career, including 30 in Funny Car.

“The cars were running so fast here this weekend that the record just became part of the equation,” said Worsham, a 45-year-old resident of Villa Park, Calif. “(Beckman) was making up points before we even started racing by setting the record. Today it came down to being head-to-head and I’m grateful for the way it worked out.”

Worsham ran 3.928-seconds at 327.35 mph vs. Beckman, whose Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T lost traction en route to a 4.088-second pass at 324.83 mph.

“I was nervous about it, I’m not going to lie,” said Worsham, who worked with co-crew chiefs Nick Boninfante and Jon Oberhofer. “The semifinal counted for the same amount of points as the first-round at Charlotte, but the circumstances were a lot greater. It was an amazing day. To come out here and to run near-record runs all day long in our DHL Toyota Camry with so much on the line was really something.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I felt the same feeling when we raced for the Top Fuel title in 2011. I’ve been here before, but not that it helped anyway. I felt like it was 25 years ago and I was about to run my first race again.”

After his championship-clinching run, Worsham squared-off with Johnson Jr. in the final and came away victorious with a 3.900-second pass at 328.14 mph. Overall, Worsham registered six passes in the 3’s, including two 3.8-second runs during the weekend.

Beckman finished 56 points behind Worsham, who won four of six Countdown races. “We said whoever would win it would earn it, and they did,” said Beckman, whose seven NHRA Wally trophies in 2015 are four more than he ever won in a single season. “Nobody is holding their head down here. We did amazing things on the racetrack and amazing things for our injured vets with Infinite Hero.”

The weekend of Funny Car competition likely will become part of NHRA drag racing lore. Beckman, a 49-year-old resident of Norco, Calif., won his first-round race with a potential NHRA record of 3.897-seconds that would earn 20 points if he ended the event without anyone else topping the mark. That lap matched “Fast Jack’s” previous national record of 3.897-seconds set a month ago at Reading, Pa. The opening-round 3.897-second pass backed-up, within one percent, Beckman’s 3.890-second elapsed time recorded during qualifying on Saturday.

But DSR teammate Ron Capps, the No. 1 qualifier in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge, took that record away from Beckman in the second round with a run in 3.885-seconds. On cue, Beckman’s team was in the next pair to run and produced a time of 3.884-seconds _ one-thousandth of a second quicker than Capps _ to re-take the record and eventually earn the bonus points.

Hines, a 32-year-old native of Villa Park, Calif., pocketed $75,000 en route to becoming the youngest driver in NHRA history to win five world championships. Hines and teammate Krawiec, a three-time world champ, continued the domination by the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team in the two-wheel category.

“My outstanding Harley-Davidson team did a great job of keeping me focused and keeping the pressure off of me,” said Hines, who won four races during the season atop his V-Rod, including three in the Countdown. “It was awesome that my wife (Tanya) got to give me a kiss right before I ran, and thanks to my teammate for helping to get the job done. I guess we put the fear of Harley into them. Five championships is pretty awesome.” Hines finished 43 points ahead of Krawiec in the final standings.

Langdon earned his second Top Fuel win of the season, sweeping both Wally trophies at the historic facility near Los Angeles for the second time in his career. Langdon, who won the season-opening Winternationals in the cockpit of an Alan Johnson Racing dragster, defeated Antron Brown in the final in another DSR machine.

Langdon powered his Red Fuel dragster to a 1,000-foot performance of 3.715-seconds at 332.43 mph to finish in front of the recently crowned two-time world champion, who posted a 3.732-second pass at 321.73 mph in his Matco Tools dragster.

“I love this track,” said Langdon, 33, the 2013 world champ who now has 11 career victories. “It has always had a special place in my heart. I grew up right around the corner (Mira Loma, Calif.). I was always out here watching my heroes race. I have so many great memories out at this track. Luckily I’ve had a good career here. It makes it sweet to share these special memories with your family and friends.”

Langdon, who finished sixth in the final standings, was hired by team-owner Don Schumacher after rival owner and master tuner Alan Johnson opted to shut-down his championship-winning organization because of a lack of funding heading into the playoffs.

“There was a little bit of a learning curve coming over to DSR a day before the Countdown started,” Langdon said. “It took a little while for everything to come together and they gave me a great race car. The team deserved it and fortunately we were able to get it done today against the champion. It’s been a crazy year on how it started and how it ended. I couldn’t be more proud to run with two great organizations with Alan Johnson and Don Schumacher.”

In Pro Stock, Johnson claimed his second win of the season and 26th of his career, by holding off Vincent Nobile in the final round. Johnson used a quicker reaction time and drove his Magneti Marelli/Mopar Dodge Dart to a quarter-mile pass in 6.541-seconds at 210.18 mph to take the win over Nobile, who clocked a quicker, but losing effort of 6.540-seconds at 211.93 mph in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro fielded by Elite Motorsports.

“We had struggled during the entire Countdown, never winning more than two rounds a race and losing twice in the first round,” said Johnson, the 2012 world champion. “We also struggled during qualifying and in eliminations. But right before the final, we discovered that a torsion bar was bent. We fixed that, and the car went straight down the track.”

Johnson added he was especially pleased to win the last Pro Stock race featuring carbureted V-8 engines. Johnson added that his plans currently are 50/50 regarding the 2016 season, when NHRA introduces its new-look Pro Stock class with electronic fuel injection, among other significant rules changes.  Johnson is co-owner of his team with his father, Roy, who also builds his engines.

“This was a very special win because it will be remembered as the end of an era,” said Johnson, a 55-year-old resident of Greenville, Tenn. “To do this today the way we did it by digging down deep and getting it done was very special.”

Krawiec closed the Pro Stock Motorcycle season with a victory that earned his runnerup point finish when he defeated two-time champ Matt Smith in the final. Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a quarter-mile pass in 6.846-seconds at 192.58 mph to finish in front of Smith’s Victory Gunner, which trailed at 6.888-seconds and 194.21 mph. It was Krawiec’s fourth victory of the season, fourth at Pomona and 31st of his career.

“I’ve been to eight finals in a row here in Pomona, so this track has treated me well,” said Krawiec, a 38-year-old native of Bayonne, N.J., and world champ in 2008, 2011-12. “It’s also a big deal for us to get the 75th win for Harley-Davidson.”

The 23-race, 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season is scheduled to open Feb. 11-14 with the 56th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Final finishing order (1-16) at the 51st annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the final of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _ 1. Shawn Langdon; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Richie Crampton; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. J.R. Todd; 7. Billy Torrence; 8. Clay Millican; 9. Brittany Force; 10. Larry Dixon; 11. Terry McMillen; 12. Troy Buff; 13. Dave Connolly; 14. Cory McClenathan; 15. Tony Schumacher; 16. Morgan Lucas.

Funny Car _1. Del Worsham; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Jack Beckman; 5. Alexis DeJoria; 6. Robert Hight; 7. Matt Hagan; 8. Cruz Pedregon; 9. Courtney Force; 10. Paul Lee; 11. Chad Head; 12. Gary Densham; 13. Jeff Arend; 14. Tony Pedregon; 15. Tim Wilkerson; 16. John Force.

Pro Stock _1. Allen Johnson; 2. Vincent Nobile; 3. Greg Anderson; 4. Erica Enders; 5. Chris McGaha; 6. Drew Skillman; 7. Larry Morgan; 8. Shane Gray; 9. Jason Line; 10. Bo Butner; 11. Alex Laughlin; 12. Kenny Delco; 13. Matt Hartford; 14. Richie Stevens; 15. Jonathan Gray; 16. V. Gaines.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Eddie Krawiec; 2. Matt Smith; 3. LE Tonglet; 4. Andrew Hines; 5. Karen Stoffer; 6. Hector Arana Jr; 7. Chip Ellis; 8. Jerry Savoie; 9. Hector Arana; 10. Steve Johnson; 11. Scotty Pollacheck; 12. Angie Smith; 13. Shawn Gann; 14. Mike Berry; 15. Jim Underdahl; 16. Michael Ray.

Final-round results from the 51st annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona:

Top Fuel _ Shawn Langdon, 3.715-seconds, 332.43 mph def. Antron Brown, 3.732-seconds, 321.73 mph.

Funny Car _ Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.900, 328.14 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.023, 305.42.

Pro Stock _ Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.541, 210.18 def. Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.540, 211.93.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.846, 192.58 def. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.888, 194.21.

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Joey Severance, 5.278, 271.84 def. David Sheetz, 6.567, 128.98.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ John Lombardo Jr., Chevy Camaro, 5.445, 273.05 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.439, 267.22.

Competition Eliminator  _Tony Mandella, Chevy S-10, 8.351, 153.44 def. Joshua Lee, Bantam Roadster, 8.867, 134.86.

Super Stock _ Jeff Adkinson, Pontiac Sunfire, 9.746, 133.50 def. Brian McClanahan, Chevy Camaro, 8.801, 146.50.

Stock Eliminator _ Leo Glasbrenner, Pontiac Firebird, 10.570, 122.06 def. Ryan McClanahan, Chevy Camaro, 9.706, 135.43.

Super Comp _ Gary Stinnett, Dragster, 9.192, 149.07 def. Prescott Dean, Dragster, 10.078, 93.96.

Super Gas _ Marko Perivolaris, Chevy Camaro, 9.918, 170.75 def. Trevor Larson, Chevy Corvette, 9.891, 168.24.

Summit Super Pro _ Todd Piper, Dragster, 7.182, 179.04 def. Chris Bear, Dragster, 7.449, 181.25.

Summit Pro _ Robert Steffen, Chevy Nova, 10.564, 125.30 def. Brock Moshier, Chevy Vega, 9.107, 137.18.

Summit Sportsman _ Nick Hastings, Ford Mustang, 12.874, 80.84 def. Adam Tabor, Chevy Nova, foul.

Summit Bike _ Mark Schwalm, Kawasaki, 7.714, 167.51 def. Rick Poole, Suzuki, 8.393, 149.83.

Final round-by-round results from the 51st annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona:


ROUND ONE _ Richie Crampton, 3.732, 317.49 def. Brittany Force, 3.759, 324.44; Shawn Langdon, 3.828, 318.24 def. Larry Dixon, 3.821, 316.82; Clay Millican, 3.871, 318.92 def. Morgan Lucas, 8.172, 90.46; Antron Brown, 3.725, 323.58 def. Cory McClenathan, 5.391, 128.81; Billy Torrence, 3.745, 328.46 def. Terry McMillen, 3.842, 316.08; J.R. Todd, 3.778, 329.91 def. Troy Buff, 3.845, 311.92; Doug Kalitta, 3.783, 274.33 def. Tony Schumacher, 5.732, 118.11; Steve Torrence, 3.720, 329.42 def. Dave Connolly, 4.018, 221.13;

QUARTERFINALS _ Langdon, 3.749, 325.85 def. Millican, 8.515, 80.79; Kalitta, 3.747, 323.66 def. B. Torrence, 7.079, 83.34; Crampton, 3.718, 320.20 def. Todd, 3.739, 328.22; Brown, 3.728, 326.40 def. S. Torrence, foul;

SEMIFINALS _ Langdon, 3.763, 327.19 def. Kalitta, 3.781, 314.31; Brown, 3.700, 323.58 def. Crampton, 10.354, 81.71;

FINAL _ Langdon, 3.715, 332.43 def. Brown, 3.732, 321.73.


ROUND ONE _ Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 5.744, 220.94 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 5.787, 270.59; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.902, 331.45 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.052, 316.38; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.944, 321.50 def. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.368, 255.97; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.897, 328.38 def. Chad Head, Toyota Camry, 4.115, 248.66; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.039, 300.93 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.432, 227.61; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.010, 310.84 def. Gary Densham, Charger, 4.238, 228.11; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 6.604 def. John Force, Camaro, DQ, 113.66; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.978, 323.66 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.986, 325.14;

QUARTERFINALS _ Capps, 3.885, 326.87 def. DeJoria, 3.955, 325.14; Beckman, 3.884, 326.16 def. C. Pedregon, 8.101, 84.25; Johnson Jr., 3.926, 321.58 def. Hagan, 7.451, 86.63; Worsham, 3.896, 328.30 def. Hight, 5.255, 150.85;

SEMIFINALS _ Johnson Jr., 3.891, 326.08 def. Capps, 4.052, 323.50; Worsham, 3.928, 327.35 def. Beckman, 4.088, 324.83;

FINAL _Worsham, 3.900, 328.14 def. Johnson Jr., 4.023, 305.42.


ROUND ONE _ Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.527, 211.89 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.537, 211.89; Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.561, 211.43 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.550, 212.26; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.571, 209.23 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, foul; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.556, 211.06 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.556, 211.26; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.543, 211.79 def. Richie Stevens, Dart, foul; Shane Gray, Camaro, 8.316, 116.78 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, foul; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.536, 211.96 def. Matt Hartford, Pontiac GXP, 6.594, 210.01; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.526, 212.56 def. V. Gaines, Dart, broke;

QUARTERFINALS _ Johnson, 6.548, 209.82 def. S. Gray, 6.551, 211.76; Nobile, 6.533, 212.13 def. Skillman, 6.527, 212.23; Anderson, 6.515, 212.53 def. McGaha, 6.517, 211.99; Enders, 6.520, 212.43 def. Morgan, 6.548, 212.43;

SEMIFINALS _ Johnson, 6.572, 209.17 def. Enders, 6.542, 211.56; Nobile, 8.523, 98.09 def. Anderson, foul;

FINAL _ Johnson, 6.541, 210.18 def. Nobile, 6.540, 211.93.


ROUND ONE _ Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.845, 195.90 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.107, 188.31; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.903, 193.18 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.703, 133.43; Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.974, 191.00 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.023, 187.52; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.886, 191.87 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.972, 190.48; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.915, 190.75 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.988, 189.63; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.905, 191.62 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 8.251, 112.78; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.914, 194.91 def. Angie Smith, 7.018, 188.33; Matt Smith, 6.884, 194.52 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.957, 193.10;

QUARTERFINALS _ Krawiec, 6.955, 184.57 def. Savoie, no time; Hines, 6.879, 190.27 def. Arana Jr., 6.898, 194.35; Tonglet, 6.871, 194.16 def. Stoffer, foul; M. Smith, 6.870, 194.32 def. Ellis, 6.928, 192.06;

SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.882, 192.38 def. Hines, 6.917, 184.80; M. Smith, 6.896, 194.72 def. Tonglet, 6.892, 190.16;

FINAL _ Krawiec, 6.846, 192.58 def. M. Smith, 6.888, 194.21.

Final point standings (top-10) following the 51st annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the final of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _ 1. Antron Brown, 2,692; 2. Tony Schumacher, 2,461; 3. Richie Crampton, 2,430; 4. Larry Dixon, 2,412; 5. Doug Kalitta, 2,388; 6. Shawn Langdon, 2,387; 7. Brittany Force, 2,363; 8. Steve Torrence, 2,342; 9. J.R. Todd, 2,307; 10. Dave Connolly, 2,303.

Funny Car _1. Del Worsham, 2,664; 2. Jack Beckman, 2,608; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,548; 4. Ron Capps, 2,490; 5. Matt Hagan, 2,418; 6. Robert Hight, 2,370; 7. John Force, 2,332; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 2,313; 9. Cruz Pedregon, 2,286; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,259.

Pro Stock _1. Erica Enders, 2,712; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,492; 3. Allen Johnson, 2,443; 4. Chris McGaha, 2,442; 5. Drew Skillman, 2,433; 6. Vincent Nobile, 2,389; 7. Larry Morgan, 2,376; 8. Jason Line, 2,331; 9. Shane Gray, 2,299; 10. Jonathan Gray, 2,286.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Andrew Hines, 2,608; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2,565; 3. Jerry Savoie, 2,550; 4. Matt Smith, 2,428; 5. Hector Arana Jr., 2,419; 6. Chip Ellis, 2,400; 7. Karen Stoffer, 2,376; 8. Hector Arana, 2,323; 9. Jim Underdahl, 2,220; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,192.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 16 2015
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