Indianapolis: Worsham preview

Del Worsham's CSK Pontiac Firebird Ready For Action At IRP INDIANAPOLIS, August 23, 2001 - It's U.S. Nationals time again in the "Circle City," and this year Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird driver Del Worsham likes his chances of...

Del Worsham's CSK Pontiac Firebird Ready For Action At IRP

INDIANAPOLIS, August 23, 2001 - It's U.S. Nationals time again in the "Circle City," and this year Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird driver Del Worsham likes his chances of picking up a win at the most prestigious event on the NHRA Drag Racing tour.

It's been one heck of a season so far for the 31-year-old Funny Car veteran from Southern California. He enters the "Big Go" third in the points standings after driving his Firebird to victories earlier this season at Houston, Chicago and Sonoma, as well as a runner-up finish at Columbus. He was also No. 1 qualifier at Houston, has won 26 rounds of eliminations and ran a career-best e.t. of 4.779 seconds at Englishtown. Worsham is qualified eighth for the Budweiser Shootout on Sunday, September 2, and will face John Force in the first round. He was runner-up at the U.S. Nationals in '92.

"At this point we're ahead of where we planned on being," said Worsham. "This Pontiac Firebird has really run great all year. I didn't really expect to have three wins at this point. The only thing I do wish is that we would've got a better start in the beginning of the season and not let Force jump out into the lead that he has now. It would've been a better points-race finish for everybody. But it's been a great season so far - it's the kind of year we've been looking for."

What do you think the key to your success has been? "Keeping the team together - I'm sure that's the answer to it. Nobody quit, everyone has stayed together and worked hard together. We had some trying times in the beginning of the season when the car didn't run well and we would lose in the first round, but they've pulled together as a team and worked very hard. We started building our combination last year at Houston and we've been working on it ever since. It's finally come together."

How important to you was it to keep the same team for this year? "It was very important. The team chemistry that we have now, a lot of teams can't ever find. It's the best I've had since I've started racing. My rookie season it was just my dad and my best friend working on the car. It was fun, but at times it was trying and we got on each other's nerves. I think the key to our success this year has been having the same guys that know what they're doing, when they're doing it and how to do it. They all like what they do too, which is an added bonus. It's hard for teams to keep people because you get someone new out there, and they see all the time and effort that's put into it and then they hate it. I feel very lucky to have been able to keep everyone and for them to all get along and work as hard as they do."

What do you want to accomplish at Indy? "A win. We've chased the wins now and we know what winning is like. Anything less at this point would be disappointing. It would be a great honor to win this race because of its prestige. Indy is a great place to race. Especially this year, with everything that's going on to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NHRA. I want to be in the record books as the winner of the 47th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals during the 50th anniversary of NHRA Drag Racing."

Is the track at Indy better this year since the repaving they've done?  "We
did some testing at IRP and we feel the track is great.  They did a great job
resurfacing it.  It's smooth and has great traction.  It's nothing like it's
been in the past.  The elapsed time of 4.96 that was No. 1 qualifier last
year, I'm predicting is not going to qualify this year.  The place is great.
I'm really looking forward to racing there.  We're hoping the weather won't
be too bad so we can put some numbers down.  We could see track records
broken I'm sure.  It should be a lot of fun."

What are your thoughts on where you are in the points standings? "Well, you never know what's going to happen because anything could happen. (John) Force has a pretty good lead right now, but anything's possible. All you can do is go out and run as hard as you can at every race. If we can't be first, we of course want to be second. We've been battling back and forth with Whit (Bazemore) for the second-place position. He has it right now and we're in third. But like I said, we're just going to go out and run as hard as we can, and whatever happens, happens."

How do you get ready for your first round on race day morning? "I go up to the starting line and I like to take a couple of looks at the tree. I watch a couple of cars go down so I can watch the lights go down a couple of times. I walk on the starting line to make sure there is nothing obviously wrong, such as the groove being moved one way or another in case I have to drive it differently. Other than that, once I go to that line I concentrate on reaction times."

What do you do differently for qualifying? "One thing is for sure, I don't worry about reaction times. I just try to keep the car on the part of the track where the traction is best and try to get our best qualifying position. Qualifying is when everyone is working the hardest on the car itself and trying to find the right combination for that specific track. It's more hands-on work than driving work. I look to my team for solutions to the car, and then on raceday they look at me to perform at the light and drive the car straight. All three days the team is working hard, and as much as they don't want to disappoint me during qualifying, I don't want to disappoint them on raceday."

Did you ever think you would be as successful as you are at this point in your career? "To be honest, yes. That is why I got into the sport. I was determined to be successful. There is still a lot of things that I would like to see happen. I always thought someday I would be a Winston champion, I guess it won't be Winston champion now since they won't be with us anymore, but I hope to be the NHRA World champion some day. I would also like to win more than one!"

What are your thoughts on being a father for the first time? "Sounds pretty scary huh? Me, a father? Wow. Well, I'm actually very excited about it. And for it to be twins just makes it even more exciting. Hopefully I'll get at least one boy out of the deal. I love girls, but I don't need three of them in the house - they'd gang up on me. I need a backup for myself. In all seriousness, boys or girls, I will be very happy and proud. I can't wait until they get here. Right now, Connie (wife) is doing great though. She is just as excited as I am. I hope to be the best dad ever."

-GM Racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham