DEL WORSHAM TAPPED TO DRIVE ALAN JOHNSON AL-ANABI RACING FUNNY CAR; Funny Car Crew Chief also Announced ENNIS, TEXAS -- Del Worsham has been named the driver of the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing Funny Car effective at the conclusion of the ...
DEL WORSHAM TAPPED TO DRIVE ALAN JOHNSON AL-ANABI RACING FUNNY CAR; Funny Car Crew Chief also Announced
ENNIS, TEXAS -- Del Worsham has been named the driver of the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing Funny Car effective at the conclusion of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season. In addition, Aaron Brooks has been named the team's crew chief, it was announced today.
After five years with Don Schumacher Racing, legendary NHRA crew chief Alan Johnson will return to team ownership when Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing debuts in 2009 as a two-car NHRA team with one entry in both Top Fuel and Funny Car competition. The driver and crew chief for the Top Fuel car have not yet been finalized. The location of the team's shop is yet to be determined.
Worsham has won 22 races in 35 Funny Car final rounds over the course of his 17-year professional career and is currently 11th in the NHRA Funny Car point standings. The Chino Hills, Calif. resident made his professional debut at the final race of the 1990 season and was named NHRA Rookie of the Year in 1991 after winning two races and finishing 6th in points.
Worsham won five races and finished second in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car point standings in 2004, the best season of his career. Worsham spent the last 12 years sponsored by CSK Auto, Inc., but the company's recent acquisition by O'Reilly Auto Parts left him without sponsorship after this season.
"I'm thrilled to have this opportunity," Worsham said. "Throughout my career, I've always said that life is about timing. We lost our sponsorship this year, and I was really worried about that; knowing I'd come to a crossroads in my life. Then, Alan announced his new team at Indy, and while sitting in the stands at the U.S. Nationals, I decided I needed to talk to Alan to see if there was an opportunity. I really was just hoping to get an interview to know what my options were, and it kind of took off from there and I got the chance to drive this car. I'm really honored to be selected.
"I've been running our family team for so many years, and have been a big part of team operations in addition to driving the car. I am definitely looking forward to letting Alan handle running the team so I can just be the driver and hopefully have some great success focusing on that one aspect. I'm looking forward to it."
Brooks has been the crew chief for Roger Burgess' R2B2 Racing Funny Car driven by Frank Hawley; he will leave the team at the end of this month. Brooks and Hawley teamed for just six races this year, but Hawley was the No. 1 qualifier at last weekend's inaugural NHRA Carolina Nationals in Concord, N.C., and Brooks is considered a rising star in Fuel Funny Car tuning.
"It's an honor to be selected for this job," Brooks said. "I'm privileged; not many people get the chance to work with Alan Johnson. Roger Burgess has a great operation, and it was unfortunate that we didn't get to race full time. The hardest part was telling Roger that I was leaving, but it's just an opportunity I couldn't turn down.
"I'm fired up; I'm already thinking about the Phoenix test to see what we can do. The bottom line is this is the most excited I've been to go racing in a long time. It's gonna be fun."
Johnson is widely considered one of the most innovative and successful crew chiefs in NHRA Top Fuel racing. He has led Schumacher Racing to four consecutive Top Fuel titles and is once again atop the point standings with five races remaining in the 2008 NHRA Countdown to the Championship. This season, Johnson and Tony Schumacher's Top Fuel dragster has set records for consecutive wins (7), wins in a season (12), and consecutive round wins (28). In addition, Johnson won NHRA Top Fuel championships with driver Gary Scelzi in 1997, '98 and 2000.
"Starting a team from scratch is never easy, but it's nice that the Funny Car side of the team has come together," Johnson said. "We are extremely fortunate to have an accomplished, well respected and well liked driver like Del; I am confident he and Aaron will build some great chemistry. Aaron has tremendous potential as a crew chief, and I can't wait to see him put that team together."
Johnson's 2006 championship will be forever remembered for "The Run;" a national record-setting run on the final pass at the last race of the season that gave Johnson's team the title. The memorable 4.428 second pass is regarded as the greatest single run in NHRA history by many drag racing historians.
After the Schumacher-driven U.S. Army dragster struggled in the first nine events of the 2003 season, Don Schumacher hired Johnson as the team's crew chief. The hire immediately paid off as Johnson guided the Army dragster to a win in his first event. Schumacher earned the Top Fuel trophy four times in 2003 en route to a third-place finish in points. Johnson and Schumacher earned NHRA Top Fuel titles in each of the next four seasons.