ENNIS, Texas - The teams of NHRA POWERade drag racing are being put to the test this season. Mother Nature has been dishing out the water, and the drag racing community is doing its best to weather the storms -- literally. In most seasons, the...
ENNIS, Texas - The teams of NHRA POWERade drag racing are being put to the test this season. Mother Nature has been dishing out the water, and the drag racing community is doing its best to weather the storms -- literally.
In most seasons, the week leading up to the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex is an off weekend, allowing the teams to prepare for the first of the final three events of the season.
Not this season.
With two rainouts, at Indianapolis and Reading, Pa., the teams will compete on seven consecutive weekends, ending with a trip to the Lone Star State of Texas.
If you see any of the competitors crossing their fingers as they near the all-concrete quarter-mile facility just south of Dallas, don't be surprised. First they are going to wish for clear skies. Then they are going to wish for a victory at the 18th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, Oct. 9-12, at Texas Motorplex. Doug Kalitta, Del Worsham and Jeg Coughlin are the defending champions for the $1.9 million race. It is the 21st of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
"In my entire career, I've never seen a stretch of weather like this or for that matter, an entire season plagued by water as much as this one," Worsham, the defending Funny Car winner, said. "This latest stretch is causing us to race without a break for so long, and it is going to be tough on the teams. It's not the workload, because our guys work hard every day throughout the season anyway. But it will create more stress to qualify and even more to race.
"Sometimes you need a chance to get away from it and recharge your emotional batteries. We don't have time for that now."
The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park was postponed a week, starting the weekend of Aug. 29, but the eliminations were run Sept. 7. The national event at Reading, Pa. was postponed from Sept. 11-14 until Oct. 3-5.
Worsham and the red Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird sit in the No. 5 spot of the Funny Car standings. He said the teams have no choice but to battle the elements first, and then the other cars when they finally get on the track. Worsham has two wins in four final rounds in the first 18 events of the season.
"Our team just does the work, we support each other and we go on to the next race," Worsham said. "I honestly think the teams that are close-knit families are the ones that will still be doing well by the time we get to Dallas. If you have issues on your team, they're gong to surface during a grind like this."
Regardless of the long stretch of racing before the teams come upon the Texas Motorplex, Worsham said he always is happy to see the O'Reilly Fall Nationals on the schedule.
"We always look forward to Dallas because it is one of those races where you really know where you are," Worsham said. "At a lot of races, you can kind of forget what town we're in, but Dallas is Dallas and the Texas fans are unique. It's an awesome track and a great facility and we always look forward to racing there."