Worsham set for fight to the finish in tough Funny Car category. LAS VEGAS - Handling a 6,000 horsepower, nitro-burning Pontiac Firebird that goes from 0-100 mph quicker than a blink of an eye and can cover a quarter-mile distance in 4.8-seconds ...
Worsham set for fight to the finish in tough Funny Car category.
LAS VEGAS - Handling a 6,000 horsepower, nitro-burning Pontiac Firebird that goes from 0-100 mph quicker than a blink of an eye and can cover a quarter-mile distance in 4.8-seconds is quite a responsibility for 32-year-old Funny Car driver Del Worsham.
Add that to the fact that Worsham is considered one of the top contenders to dethrone 11-time NHRA POWERade champion John Force, whom Worsham met in the final round of the first two events of 2002, and the pressure becomes greater.
Now add newborn twin daughters to the mix and everything takes on more meaning.
Worsham will try and continue his impressive early-season performance when he competes in the third annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 4-7, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The $1.9 million race is the fourth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag racing Series.
After a runner-up finish to Force at the season-opener, Worsham had troubles making the 16-car order at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, a race funded by the title sponsor for his Pontiac Firebird. A final qualifying effort posted numbers that earned him the No. 10 spot entering eliminations. Despite the qualifying setbacks, Worsham went out and scored three exciting round wins before lining up against Force in the final round. At the following event in Gainesville, Fla., Worsham wasn't as fortunate. Worsham found himself in the same position as Phoenix at the final qualifying session and this time he didn't convert. Lucky for him, however, his points position wasn't jeopardized too much as Force lost in the first round.
Considered the youngest veteran on the circuit, and entering his 12th year of professional competition, Worsham and the rest of the Funny Car field have one objective: stop Force.
"I expect to make a run for the championship," said Worsham, from Chino Hills, Calif. "We all feel we're capable of being a tough team the whole year, but I don't think any of us feel the pressure to dethrone the King (Force). As a driver I don't feel any pressure yet either. Now, if some day we get to the final race, the final round, and have a chance to win the POWERade championship, maybe then we'll feel a little tight, but I'm willing to give it a shot to find out how it feels."
Following his win in Arizona, Worsham's wife, Connie, gave birth to twin girls, Katelyn and Madelyn, and in no time at all the Worsham household occupancy doubled.
"I keep trying to come up with the words to describe what the birth of our twin little girls has been like, but I'm not doing a very good job of it," said Worsham, a first-time father. "You can prepare all you want, but the truth is one minute you're just a husband, the next minute you're a husband and dad. From that moment forward, everything changes and you just have to adapt."
After purchasing a motor home to get from event to event, the Worsham family is targeting mid-August as the beginning of the road trip with the kids.
"That will be home away from home for Connie and the girls," said Worsham. "You know, growing up at the race track must seem like a really bizarre lifestyle to so many people, but not to people like us. It's where I grew up, and so many other racers continue to pass this lifestyle along to their kids. It's not a bad way to grow up. It's a very close community."
And for the first time in his career, Worsham feels like his team what it takes to be on top in his tight-night Funny Car community.
"The day Rob came to work for us, the car started running better," said Worsham. "This is the first year since the early '90s where we are going into the season with a car that I am sure can win. I've always thought that we had a car that could win, but there have been times when we knew we didn't have a car that could perform to the levels of John Force. This year it does."