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Nitro Funny Cars Converging On Texas Motorplex

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 25 2021

The 2021 version of the Worsham & Fink funny car.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Drag racing Hall of Famer Billy Meyer’s Texas Motorplex will launch its 2021 major event schedule this weekend with the inaugural Nitro Madness Funny Car Chaos event in Ennis.

The list of 68 entries filed with promoter Chris Graves includes two-time NHRA world champion Del Worsham and his team with support from long-time rod and piston supplier CP Carrillo. Worsham will be revisiting his roots and honoring his father, Chuck Worsham, with a throwback livery on his Toyota Camry flopper.

“I’m so excited to be racing at this event with a Funny Car that looks just like my dad’s 1980 Corvette race car,” said Worsham, a veteran of nostalgia Funny Car events. “I have to thank CP Carrillo for coming on-board to make this happen for our team. Funny Car Chaos this weekend looks like the biggest Funny Car race of my lifetime and I didn’t want to miss it.”

Worsham has designed his 2021 Toyota entry to duplicate the look of his dad’s 1980 Worsham & Fink Chevrolet Corvette. Del raced with his father from 1990 to 2008, and the duo won 16 national events and posted a runnerup point finish to John Force in the 2004 world championship. The father/son relationship continues with Chuck Worsham a constant presence at the racetrack overseeing his team, while Del tunes Alexis DeJoria’s  Toyota Funny Car.

“I’ve been lucky to spend so much time with my dad at the racetrack,” said Worsham, NHRA’s 2011 Top Fuel world champion and 2015 Funny Car world champ. “When I look at this 2021 Camry Funny Car it takes me right back to 1980. It turned out amazing and I can’t wait to get it on the track this weekend. I know there will be racers who have been involved for decades at this event and we want to put on a good show.”

Competition will begin Friday with Funny Car qualifying at 6 and 9:30 p.m. (CDT) leading to a final Funny Car qualifying session at 1 p.m. Saturday. Eliminations will begin at 5 p.m. For tickets or event information visit www.texasmotorplex.com or call 800-MOTORPLEX.

In addition, tickets for the 36th annual NHRA FallNationals are on sale for an event booked for Oct. 7-10. The Plex will play host to the fourth of six Countdown to the Championship Playoff events.

“Last year we overcame a lot of hurdles to get to the FallNationals,” Motorplex General Manager Andy Carter said. “That race was one of the biggest outdoor events in the state and I could not be prouder of how our whole team pulled together with the NHRA. We saw an incredible renewal rate and we’re excited to start making tickets available to the general public.”

The NHRA FallNationals will feature the return of “Friday Night Live” with Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying under the lights.

Texas Motorplex opened in 1986 as drag racing’s first all-concrete stadium-style facility. Built in 1986, The Plex hosts a number of racing and car show events between January and November. The facility also features the Champion’s Club, an 11,000 square-foot hall that serves fully catered events throughout the year.

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Texas Motor Speedway has announced a second cancellation of the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) Friday Night Drags summer racing series for 2021. The six-week, six-race amateur series was held consecutively from 2009 to 2019 before being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Speedway officials plan to restart the program in 2022.

“Canceling the UTI Friday Night Drags program for a second year is the last thing we wanted to do,” said TMS President/General Manager Eddie Gossage. “But despite restrictions in Texas being lifted, we believe it’s still in the best interest of our competitors, fans and partners to do so for health and safety reasons. We appreciate everyone at UTI, Summit Racing Equipment, Snap-on, Texas Born Performance and In-N-Out Burger for their support and understanding and look forward to continuing our successful partnerships in 2022.”

The seven racing categories include the Bandit Division, Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Division, Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Modified Division, Snap-on Tools All-Wheel Drive Division, Super Car Division, Texas Born Performance Black Smoke Warrior Division and the Summit Racing Equipment Outlaw Division. 

Meanwhile, TMS will launch its 25th anniversary major event schedule on May 1-2 with an NTT IndyCar Series doubleheader on the 1.5-mile oval. The Genesys 300 will air live May 1 on NBC Sports Network beginning at 6 p.m. (CDT) while the XPEL 375 will air live May 2 on NBCSN beginning at 4 p.m.

Tickets for TMS’ major events,  including the June 13 NASCAR All-Star Race, are on sale now at https://www.texasmotorspeedway.com/events/.

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NHRA and Atlanta Dragway officials have confirmed the 2021 NHRA Southern Nationals, scheduled for April 30-May 2, will be the final national event conducted at the historic track in Commerce, Ga.

“This year’s NHRA Southern Nationals is the capstone on four decades of racing at this track,” said Kasey Coler, NHRA Vice President of Track Management & Operations. “We know that our 40th will be a celebration of the track’s renowned drag racing history and will be an event fans won’t want to miss.”

First graded to house an airport, Atlanta Dragway was built in 1976 with the tower constructed for the airport serving as the original timing tower. The track began hosting NHRA-sanctioned events in 1980, opening twice a year for major races. NHRA purchased the track in 1993.

Atlanta Dragway will continue to host its weekly event schedule through the fall, including Summit E.T. Bracket Series events and the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series National Open, May 21-23, along with the NHRA Division 2 Summit E.T. Series Finals, Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

NHRA officials are working to fill open slots on the 2022 schedule. For more information about the NHRA schedule or to purchase tickets for the NHRA Southern Nationals, visit NHRA.com.

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NHRA will celebrate its 70th anniversary season throughout 2021 with references to the full-throttle history written by “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, John “Brute” Force, Bob Glidden, Dave Schultz…and Josh Hart.

A rookie competing in Top Fuel, Hart earned his record book entry by winning the season-opening 52nd annual  Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway earlier this month. A native of Ocala, Fla., Hart became the first driver to win in his NHRA professional debut since the late Darrell Russell, also in Top Fuel, 20 years ago.

Hart posted round victories against Clay Millican, three-time/reigning world champion Steve Torrence and Justin Ashley before defeating Shawn Langdon in the final with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.826-seconds at 323.66 mph. Hart, who qualified eighth, became the 110th driver to hoist a Wally trophy in Top Fuel.

“Never in a million years would I have thought this was going to happen,” said Hart, owner/driver of the Burnyzz/Technet dragster tuned by Ron Douglas. “I’ve wanted to do this for a really long time and to do it in Top Fuel is just amazing. Ron Douglas gave me an amazing car and the guys have worked their butts off. That thing was a monster going down the track.”

Hart, whose NHRA resume includes a pair of Top Alcohol Dragster victories at the prestigious U.S. Nationals, announced the move of Josh Hart Fearless Racing to Top Fuel last December. NHRA typically opens its season with the Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif., in February. But public health protocols linked to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the California-based sanctioning body to move the opener to its East Coast Florida hub in Gainesville, home track to Hart and one of his heroes. 

“Don Garlits was here (after the race) and he said, ‘Sometimes, it’s just your day,’^” Hart said. “I believe that. There were no errors and everything led to me being confident driving the hot rod. It was epic.” 

Douglas posted his first victory since July 2018, when Blake Alexander won the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. 

“For us to be able to come out here and do it with Josh, it’s awesome,” Douglas said. “He and Brittanie are two of the best people you can ever meet. They’ve given us free rein to build this as we saw fit and they’ve been very supportive. Josh can truly drive the car. It’s been a tremendous amount of work for the entire team all winter, spending a lot of time in Ocala at Josh’s place putting this together. 

“To be able to come out and string a few round-wins together and get out of here with a win, it’s a real testament to the ownership and the team we were able to bring together.”

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Point standings (top-10) following the 52nd annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway, first event in the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series: 

Top Fuel_1. Josh Hart, 113; 2. Shawn Langdon, 94; 3. (tie) Justin Ashley, 72; Antron Brown, 72; 5. Steve Torrence, 64; 6. Billy Torrence, 62; 7. Doug Kalitta, 54; 8. Leah Pruett, 52; 9. Brittany Force, 35; 10. Mike Salinas, 34.

Funny Car_1. J.R. Todd, 114; 2. Robert Hight, 95; 3. Cruz Pedregon, 73; 4. Bob Tasca III, 72; 5. Ron Capps, 64; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 60; 7. Tim Wilkerson, 57; 8. John Force, 56; 9. Matt Hagan, 34; 10. (tie) Blake Alexander, 32; Chad Green, 32; Paul Lee, 32.

Pro Stock_1. Greg Anderson, 123; 2. Troy Coughlin Jr., 93; 3. Deric Kramer, 77; 4. Mason McGaha, 72; 5. Matt Hartford, 59; 6. Kyle Koretsky, 55; 7. Alex Laughlin, 52; 8. Fernando Cuadra Jr., 51; 9. Erica Enders, 44; 10. Kenny Delco, 34.

Pro Stock Motorcycle_1. Matt Smith, 119; 2. Ryan Oehler, 96; 3. Steve Johnson, 74; 4. Scotty Pollacheck, 73; 5. Angelle Sampey, 67; 6. Karen Stoffer, 55; 7. Hector Arana Jr., 54; 8. Chris Bostick, 51; 9. Joey Gladstone, 40; 10. (tie) Kelly Clontz, 32; John Hall, 32; Cory Reed, 32; Angie Smith, 32.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 25 2021
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