TOYOTA’S WORSHAM WINS POMONA; TAKES TOP FUEL TITLE
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13, 2011) – Del Worsham finished off a spectacular Cinderella season by defeating Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel finals to win the Southern California Auto Club NHRA Finals at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona Sunday and secure the first championship of his 21-year career. The victory was the 17th for a Toyota-sponsored Top Fuel driver in 22 races this season.
Worsham’s weekend began by leading two of three qualifying sessions to earn the number one qualifying position and move from two points down in the title hunt to take an eight-point advantage heading into today’s eliminations. He then defeated Mike Ashley and David Grubnic to set up what was essentially a showdown for the championship against Spencer Massey with the winner earning the Top Fuel crown. Worsham then beat Massey down the track by just .004-seconds to clinch the championship in his first full season of Top Fuel racing – 20 years after winning the Funny Car Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 1991.
Worsham’s championship marked the second consecutive season that the Al-Anabi Racing Toyota team earned the Top Fuel title after Larry Dixon won 12 races on the way to the 2010 crown. In addition to the two championships, the team has won 22 out of the 45 Top Fuel races run during that span.
Fellow Toyota drivers Antron Brown and Dixon also were in the title mix entering the day. Brown’s hopes ended in the second round when he was defeated by Dixon in a race decided by .004-seconds. He had knocked off Bob Vandergriff in the opening round. Dixon’s day, along with his championship hopes came to an end in the semi-finals when he was defeated by Tony Schumacher. Brown concluded the season in third-place, just two points ahead of the fourth-place Dixon.
In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon came within two rounds of earning his third Funny Car championship. The Snap-On Toyota Camry driver defeated Bob Tasca and Melanie Troxel to advance to the semi-finals before falling to eventual champion Matt Hagan. Pedregon’s stellar season concluded with him placing third in the championship. Rookie Alexis DeJoria lost in the opening to Mike Neff after red-lighting. She competed in just four races this season and will be eligible to run for Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 2012.
Del Worsham, Al-Anabi Racing Toyota Top Fuel Dragster: "We’ve had some highs and lows this year. That semi-finals round against Spencer Massey was, by far, the biggest round of my 21-year career. There was a lot of pressure and I had no idea if I’d even won at first. This is an amazing feeling. This is what I've raced for a chance to do for the last 21 years. I didn't start off thinking I could win a championship, all I hoped to do was get in a car, but after you start to win some races, you start to think maybe you can win a championship someday. I have a great team behind me and I just can't say enough about everyone involved. I'll admit, after we lost in the second round at Phoenix (with two races remaining), I started to think that maybe it just wasn't meant to be. But Alan Johnson came up to me and said, don't worry, we're going to change chassis and we're going to win the last two races and the championship -- and that's what we did."