Worsham’s On Record Binge In Seattle

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 7 2016
Del Worsham is shredding the Funny Car record book in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

Del Worsham is shredding the Funny Car record book in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)


Del Worsham reset the Funny Car elapsed time national record twice on Saturday en route to claiming pole position at the 29th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at Pacific Raceways.

It was, in fact, an extraordinary day of time trials for the entire Funny Car class in Kent, Wash., featuring the top-five quickest 1,000-foot passes in the category celebrating its 50th anniversary season.

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories outside Seattle during the 16th event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The race also is the final of three stops on the NHRA’s annual summertime “Western Swing.”

 The reigning Funny Car world champion, Worsham took full advantage of ideal weather conditions during Saturday’s first session to reset the E.T. national record with a pass in 3.841-seconds and 330.15 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry. In the day’s second session, Worsham notched the quickest Funny Car pass in NHRA history with a 3.832-second run at 330.88 mph to again lower the E.T. national record.

The previous record was a 3.862-second pass posted by two-time world champion Matt Hagan in the Rocky Boots/Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T fielded by rival Don Schumacher Racing earlier this season at Heartland Park Topeka. 

Worsham claimed his second consecutive pole, third of the season and 20th of his career. Amazingly, this is the first time the Californian has claimed back-to-back top qualifiers in Funny Car. Worsham, of Kalitta Motorsports, will face Tim Gibbons in the first round of eliminations, which will be shown live on the FOX national network Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. (EDT).

“We just have an incredible team working well together,” said Worsham, who has victories at Seattle in both Funny Car (1999) and Top Fuel (2011). “We’ve been running this new Bounty Hunter chassis since Denver and the team at the shop built an incredible piece. Nicky (Boninfante) and Jon O. (Oberhofer) and the guys, I cannot say enough about what they’re doing.

“I have to thank Toyota and TRD for their help, too. It’s an incredible honor to be driving this DHL Toyota Camry for Connie and this entire Kalitta Motorsports team and I’m excited. Tomorrow is what matters though, and we look forward to accomplishing more then.” 

Ron Capps posted the second-quickest pass in Funny Car history and qualified second with a 3.843-second pass at 329.91 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T. Capps, a four-time winner this season for DSR, will go heads-up with Brandon Welch in the first round on Sunday.

Courtney Force of John Force Racing is third at 3.855-seconds and 328.14 mph, the third-quickest pass in category history. Force, driver of the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, will face Jeff Diehl in the first round. Jack Beckman, the 2012 world champion who already has clinched a spot in the season-ending Countdown to the Championship, is fourth at 3.861-seconds and 332.26 mph. Hagan, a DSR teammate to Capps and Beckman, qualified fifth at 3.872-seconds and 332.51 mph.

John Force, the 16-time Funny Car world champion, qualified seventh in his Realtree PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant Chevy Camaro SS. Force won the first two races of the “Western Swing” in Morrison, Colo., and Sonoma, Calif. Brut swept the three races in 1994 and will look to become the first driver to do so twice when he races Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first round Sunday morning.

 In Top Fuel, Schumacher claimed the 80th pole of his career and first of the season with a Pacific Raceways track-record 1,000-foot time of 3.686-seconds and 323.58 mph in the U.S. Army dragster. Schumacher, who also has clinched a spot in the Countdown, is a three-time Seattle winner. The eight-time world champion has raced to one victory in three final-round appearances this season and will go head-to-head with Ron Smith in Sunday’s first round.

“There were a lot of good cars and we weren’t the last one to go down the track so we thought somebody was going to go faster,” said “The Sarge,” who grabbed his first No. 1 since 2015 in Bristol, Tenn. “We’re happy to go into race day as the No. 1 qualifier. We’ve had some serious problems to work through and figure out, and once we did, the small moves bring you to that 0.68 run. That run won’t win you races, though. It’ll qualify you really well, but you still have to go out on race day when it’s hot and run really well.”

Fellow-Texan Steve Torrence enters eliminations in the No. 2 spot after pushing his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster to a 3.701-second pass at 328.54 mph. Torrence, who has won two races in four final-round appearances this season working with tuning guru Alan Johnson, will race Scott Palmer in the first round.

Recent Sonoma winner J.R. Todd is third at 3.706-seconds at 328.14 mph in his SealMaster dragster. Todd will battle Troy Buff to open eliminations. Two-time/reigning world champ Antron Brown is fourth, Clay Millican is fifth and two-time 2016 event-winner Brittany Force is sixth.

Nobile sprinted to the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock with a quarter-mile pass of 6.527-seconds at 211.49 mph in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro. The 2013 Seattle winner claimed his first top qualifier of the season and fifth of his career.  Nobile, currently fifth in points, posted a runnerup finish two weeks ago at Bandimere Speedway outside Denver. He will begin eliminations with a first-round bye due to a short field.

“Today the weather got a little bit better and the track got extremely better, so if we didn’t improve our time, someone was definitely coming around us,” said Nobile, who also led qualifying Friday night with a 6.549-second pass. “I know there was a little bit more in that run we made today, which is definitely comforting. Being No. 1 and knowing you can go a little bit faster is really cool. The car is on a rail. It’s real consistent and it’s real fast. Now it’s up to the driver.”

Bo Butner, who has raced to four runnerup finishes this season, qualified second in his Jim Butner Auto Chevy Camaro at 6.530-seconds and 211.73 mph. Butner will race Alan Prusiensky in the first round.

Point-leader Greg Anderson, a four-time world champion, is third at 6.544-seconds and 210.77 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. Anderson, a seven-time 2016 winner and three-time Seattle winner, is matched with Aaron Strong in Round 1. Anderson’s KB Racing teammate, six-time 2016 winner and two-time world champion Jason Line, is fourth and is followed by Bandimere winner Allen Johnson in fifth.

Championship-winning tuner Todd Smith has been named crew chief on the McLeod Racing Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by Paul Lee. Smith will lead the third Funny Car team for Kalitta Motorsports when it begins competing at the NHRA Keystone Nationals this fall.

“I am excited to be back with Team Kalitta and to be able to work with Paul and the McLeod team on putting this new operation together,” Smith said in a statement. “Lee is a talented driver and with the Kalitta equipment I am confident in our chances to have success.”

Smith previously spent five seasons at Kalitta Motorsports working with drivers Connie, Doug and Scott Kalitta throughout the late 1990s. After departing, he led Jack Beckman to the 2012 Funny Car Championship at Don Schumacher Racing. Last season, Smith worked with Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel team. 

“I’m excited that Todd Smith has joined our McLeod Racing Kalitta Motorsports Funny Car Team,” Lee said. “Todd is very experienced and is a proven winner. Jim Oberhofer is assembling an awesome team which will make our Funny Car a contender and capable of winning each time we pull up to the staging beams.”

Smith will join an elite group of crew chiefs at Kalitta Motorsports including the legendary Conrad “Connie” Kalitta, Jim and Jon Oberhofer, Nicky Boninfante, Tommy DeLago, Glen Huzsar and Rob Flynn. 

“Todd has been part of the Kalitta Motorsports team in the past and I am excited that he is back with us,” said Jim Oberhofer, vice president of operations, Kalitta Motorsports. “He is a championship-caliber crew chief and will not only add a lot to Paul’s McLeod Racing team, but also Kalitta Motorsports as a whole.”

Sunday’s first-round elimination pairings for the 29th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at Pacific Raceways, the 16th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings:

 Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.686-seconds, 323.58 mph  vs. 16. Ron Smith, 4.034, 288.33; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.701, 328.54  vs. 15. Scott Palmer, 3.879, 316.45; 3. J.R. Todd, 3.706, 328.14 vs. 14. Troy Buff, 3.827, 309.06; 4. Antron Brown, 3.717, 323.66  vs. 13. T.J. Zizzo, 3.794, 319.22; 5. Clay Millican, 3.727, 326.79  vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.792, 315.78; 6. Brittany Force, 3.729, 325.06  vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, 3.751, 325.14; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.741, 324.98  vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.744, 325.53; 8. Leah Pritchett, 3.741, 322.11  vs. 9. Morgan Lucas, 3.743, 325.14.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Terry Haddock, 4.957, 163.35; 18. Bill Litton, 5.630, 268.92.

Funny Car _ 1. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.832, 330.88  vs. 16. Tim Gibbons, Chevy Impala, broke; 2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.843, 329.91  vs. 15. Brandon Welch, Chevy Monte Carlo, 10.864, 71.35; 3. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.855, 328.14  vs. 14. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 8.265, 100.55; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.861, 332.43  vs. 13. Gary Densham, Ford Mustang, 4.036, 309.27; 5. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.872, 332.51  vs. 12. John Hale, Charger, 3.956, 316.75; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.878, 328.38  vs. 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.927, 321.88; 7. John Force, Camaro, 3.893, 328.06  vs. 10. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.902, 324.83; 8. Chad Head, Camry, 3.894, 328.62  vs. 9. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.894, 326.24.

 Pro Stock _ 1. Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.527, 211.49  vs. Bye; 2. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.530, 211.86  vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.755, 205.10; 3. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.544, 211.26 vs. 14. Aaron Strong, Camaro, 6.614, 208.46; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.545, 212.13  vs. 13. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.612, 209.88; 5. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.550, 211.06  vs. 12. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.596, 209.92; 6. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.552, 211.53  vs. 11. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.572, 209.79; 7. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.562, 209.98  vs. 10. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.568, 210.37; 8. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.567, 210.93  vs. 9. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.568, 210.97.


| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 7 2016
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