Interview with Del Worsham

Del Worsham To be honest, this has been a long time in the making. Del Worsham, the 34-year-old driver of the red Checker Schuck's Kragen Funny Car has been competing since 1991. OK, he raced in one event in 1990, but still, Worsham has been ...

Del Worsham

To be honest, this has been a long time in the making. Del Worsham, the 34-year-old driver of the red Checker Schuck's Kragen Funny Car has been competing since 1991. OK, he raced in one event in 1990, but still, Worsham has been behind the wheel of an NHRA hot rod for more than a decade. He has finished in the top five of the final standings four times, but he has yet to win an NHRA POWERade championship. He won back-to-back events this season (Phoenix and Gainesville) for the first time in his career and he is No. 1 in the Funny Car point standings. Will 2004 be different? Will this be the year that Worsham pulls up to the starting line at his home track of Pomona (Calif.) Raceway during the final race of the season with his sights on the POWERade championship? Only time will tell. Worsham and his father, tuner and team owner Chuck Worsham, remain one of the most respected families in racing. Now they want to be one of the most feared on race day. Worsham may have posted a first-round loss in Las Vegas during the recent Summitracing.Com Nationals, but he was in the winner's circle regardless. Teammate Phil Burkart picked up the win in the blue car. Now the CSK team is aiming for win No. 4 during this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park. In this Q&A session, Worsham talks about the team's 2004 goals, what Burkart contributes and what it is like to have two cars and twin daughters.

Q: You won back-to-back races earlier this season for the first time in your career. What kept you from accomplishing that feat in the past?

WORSHAM: I've come close several times, but I think we got lucky this time. We've come real close in the past, and have been in the final round following a race we've won, but we just never finished on the right side until recently. When it comes to winning back-to-back races, I think you need to have a little luck along with solid performance.

Q: What goals did you set for yourself and the team before the start of the 2004 season?

WORSHAM: We definitely are aiming for the POWERade Funny Car championship. It's the same goal we've had for the last three years. To do that we have to limit the amount of first and second round losses we suffer and until (Las Vegas) we had done pretty well with that. Phil did a great job last weekend. He took out all of the right people, all of the people around us in the point standings. The two-car team concept really worked for us in Vegas.

Q: What has Phil Burkart contributed to the team so far?

WORSHAM: He's a good driver and a real nice guy. He brings a positive attitude and a positive spirit to the team. When we were getting ready to hire a driver to replace Johnny Gray we thought about all of the cars he drove in the past. One thing we noticed is that he made the cars better. Everything he did was positive and that was what we were looking for. We wanted someone who could come into the CSK program, make a positive impact and make the cars better. He's done that. He's done a great job.

Q: What is the CSK team capable of doing performance wise, this season?

WORSHAM: We are capable of running as quick any anybody in the Funny Car class. Having a two-car team allows us to try some things. Phil's car isn't really an R&D car, but he does run new parts. He's supposed to have all of the fast parts just so we can try to get dialed in. I believe with the new intake manifold and supercharger we are capable of running as fast as anyone. When the track calls for a 4.90 run, we can run that. When it calls for runs in the 4.70s, we can run that. We can run what the track can hold.

Q: You've been successful, winning 16 nationals events so far. But you have not been one of the last two cars standing at the end of the season when the POWERade championship was up for grabs. Are you getting impatient when it comes to competing for a championship?

WORSHAM: No because I understand that the whole thing is a building process and it all comes from experience. I know that it took us 10 years to build a team that was capable of winning races. Then it took us two years to dial in a crew and a program that eliminated mistakes and made sure that things weren't falling off the car on race day. Now we are getting to the point where we can win back-to-back races. Winning two races was exciting, but I am very focused on the big picture. Those were just two wins out of several that we would need to win to earn the championship. I just hope that we aren't peaking too early. We need to be able to run hard for the entire season.

Q: How are you and your father able to continue to work so well together?

WORSHAM: It must be a mutual respect thing. He has thick skin. Of course, I tease him pretty bad, so maybe that's why he has such thick skin. We all know parents can be pretty helpless. I don't know what he would do without me. To be honest, I don't know why we get along so well. But I really think it all goes back to the fact that we have great respect for each other.

Q: You have twin daughters who just celebrated their first birthday. How has the expanded family impacted racing?

WORSHAM: The girls haven't impacted racing at all. It's everything else that has been impacted. I used to like to play golf, or water ski or ride my mountain bike. Not anymore. I don't do anything unless it has something to do with my family or racing. I don't have time for anything else. There isn't such a thing as free time anymore. People think that having twins is double the work. It's not. It's much more than that. Just when one of the girls finally goes to sleep and you think you might have a couple of quiet minutes, the other wakes up. There is no such thing as rest.

Q: What do you think about Funny Car competition this season?

WORSHAM: The competition is unbelievable and it has been that way for the past few years. I used to think that it couldn't get any more competitive, but then you have more people involved. Jerry Toliver is back, Tony Pedregon has his own team and the competition is real strong all around. I think we actually gained an advantage this season by not changing anything. We have the same combination, the same drivers, everything is the same from last year. That may have given us a small advantage because we've been on some warm tracks right from the start of the season and we were able to use the same setup from last year. Normally we don't see the warm conditions that we had in Phoenix and Gainesville until May and that helped us.

Q: When are you going to switch to the new Chevy Monte Carlo body?

WORSHAM: We're going to run the Monte Carlo in Houston. I've been in a Pontiac Firebird since the start of the 1998 season and I'm excited about trying the Monte Carlo. Phil did a great job with his and we tested it out and we're going to run it for the first time in Houston.

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Phil Burkart , Johnny Gray , Chuck Worsham , Jerry Toliver