Chevy Red Bowtie Reigns Over Texas Motorplex - Worsham Scores Funny Car Win For Monte Carlo, Connolly Delivers Cavalier Pro Stock Victory ENNIS, Tex., Sept. 26, 2004 - With a pair of Monte Carlo Funny Cars facing off in the final round of the ...
Chevy Red Bowtie Reigns Over Texas Motorplex - Worsham Scores Funny Car Win For Monte Carlo, Connolly Delivers Cavalier Pro Stock Victory
ENNIS, Tex., Sept. 26, 2004 - With a pair of Monte Carlo Funny Cars facing off in the final round of the O'Reilly Fall Nationals, and an event championship for Cavalier in Pro Stock, it turned out to be an extraordinary afternoon of quarter-mile racing today for the legendary Chevy Red Bowtie at the Texas Motorplex.
Del Worsham captured his fourth victory of the season, his second career win at the Texas Motorplex, and advanced to third place in the Funny Car standings by defeating a formidable Cruz Pedregon in the all-Chevrolet championship heat. With today's victory, Worsham and the red Checker Schuck's Kragen Monte Carlo team experienced one of their best overall race weekends since their victory at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals at Columbus (Ohio) in June.
"Our Chevrolet was absolutely great here this weekend," said Worsham. "Since we've gone to the 85-percet rule and the new tires, we've had a hard time fielding a competitive racecar. We stayed at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Tuesday after the U.S. Nationals and made several runs working on just about everything. We came out here this weekend, and my dad and the entire race team put together a great racecar - it certainly showed out here today. We had a little luck, a couple of guys red lighted against us, but you need that every now and then. Everyone on the Checker Schuck's Kragen team did their job and I'm just happy to be standing in the winner's circle tonight."
The 34-year-old Worsham entered raceday with the red CSK Chevrolet qualified in the No. 5 position, his best pre-race time trials since the NHRA Summer Nationals at Topeka (Kan.) in May. The California native drove his nitro-powered Monte Carlo past Tim Wilkerson in round one, Whit Bazemore in round two and John Force in round three, with a series of bracket-type performance numbers including a 4.995 e.t. in the opening stanza, a 4.912-second lap in the quarterfinals, and a 4.911 e.t. in the semifinals.
After launching with a .02 of a second reaction time advantage in the finals against Pedregon, Worsham's Chevrolet was stayed even with the Pedregon Monte Carlo until about halftrack. But an extra push toward the stripe propelled the CSK Chevrolet across the line first in 4.934 seconds at 315.56 mph. Pedregon followed in 4.948 seconds at 307.02 mph. The margin of victory for the Worsham & Fink Chevrolet was .034 of a second.
It was Worsham's fourth victory of the season, the 18th of his career and his first visit to the winner's circle since his victory at Columbus in June. He is now tied with John Force for the most Funny Car wins this season. It was a quarter-milestone for Chevrolet as well, marking the red bowtie's 70th all-time win in NHRA Funny Car competition. It was also the Monte Carlo's sixth win in Funny Car competition this season and the second time this year a pair have battled in the final round. Worsham is now only eight points behind second-place Gary Scelzi in the Funny Car standings.
"Our goal has always been to just get the car down the track and not beat ourselves," said Worsham. "We had been riding out a tune-up that we built over four years ago. When the rules changed, it was very hard on us. You have to consider that we had over 700 runs worth of data but from that point it all became useless. At the U.S. Nationals we finally hit on a nice setup that seems to be something the car likes. What's really encouraging is how quickly we've been able to put it all together.
"We worked on several things in testing at Indy including the clutch, the engine and the aerodynamics of the body. We wanted to make sure we had all the downforce we could possibly get out of the Monte Carlo. The new tires don't have the traction the old tires had, and because of that, we probably never took full advantage of the maximum downforce of the Chevrolet. We took a hard look at the body to take advantage of the Chevrolet's aerodynamics, and everything we could do, we did. It showed today. The Monte Carlo ran close to 317 mph all afternoon on a 120-degree track, and that's saying something."
Adding to Chevrolet's Lone-Star State bonanza was 21-year-old Dave Connolly's second Pro Stock win of the season. Connolly qualified his Bill Jenkins-powered Chevy Cavalier in the No. 11 position for today's race. He defeated Kenny Koretsky in round one, Kurt Johnson in round two and Allen Johnson in round three before squaring up with Bruce Allen in the championship heat. Jumping out of the starting blocks first, the Bullet Motorsports Chevy Cavalier charged hard all the way through the quarter mile and took the win light with a 6.810 e.t. at 203.74 mph. Allen's Pontiac finished in 6.891 seconds with a speed of 202.79 mph.
"We had a good run heading into Indy but fell on our faces there," said Connolly. "We came out here, and struggled a little bit during qualifying, but on raceday that 'Grumpy' (Bill Jenkins) horsepower really stood out. When you looked at our side of the ladder, everyone knew we had our work cut out for us. But Greg (Anderson) went out in the first round and we were fortunate to get by Kurt (Johnson) in the second round. We were able to take advantage of a few breaks and pick up the win."
For Connolly, it was his seventh final-round appearance this season and his fifth trip to the money round in the last six contests. Connolly's victory was also the 50th consecutive win for GM Racing in NHRA Pro Stock competition, a streak that started with Jeg Coughlin Jr. at Brainerd, Minn., in August of 2002.
"Hopefully we can keep this Chevrolet headed in the right direction for the final four races and maybe climb into second place," said Connolly. "We're just a few points behind Jason (Line) so to accomplish such a high finish in just our second season would really be something."
Although he suffered a rare round one loss to Kurt Johnson, Pontiac Grand Am driver Greg Anderson still managed to mathematically eliminate the rest of his opponents to capture his second consecutive POWERade Pro Stock championship. The 43-year-old Anderson's second title is the earliest clinch by a professional driver in the history of the NHRA, and it marks the third NHRA Pro Stock title in the last four years for the Pontiac Grand Am. GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson won the 2001 NHRA crown during the Grand Am's debut season to go with Anderson's most recent pair of championships.
"It's been a fantastic ride all year long with the Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am," said Anderson. "The performance of the racecar over the last few months is quite a testament to the guys on this team, team-owner Ken Black, Summit Racing, Pontiac Grand Am and the rest of the great sponsors who have made this second championship possible. That we've been able to lead from bell to bell is quite incredible, but now it's time to go back to work."
The next stop on the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is the CarQuest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals on Sept. 30 - Oct. 3 at Route 66 Raceway In Joliet, Ill.