Memphis: AutoZone Nationals Funny Car preview

Worsham Geared For Career-Best Season MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Del Worsham didn't win a single Funny Car event during the 2000 season. Since 1991, he had compiled only three career victories and finished no higher than sixth in the Winston ...

Worsham Geared For Career-Best Season

MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Del Worsham didn't win a single Funny Car event during the 2000 season. Since 1991, he had compiled only three career victories and finished no higher than sixth in the Winston points standings Worsham isn't giving a repeat performance this season. The 31-year-old from Chino Hills, Calif., has already posted three victories this season -- beating points leader John Force twice in the finals. Worsham's other final-round win was against second-place Whit Bazemore After a first-round exit last season at Memphis Motorsports Park, Worsham is looking to gain some Winston championship points at the 14th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Sept. 20-23. The $1.9 million race is the 19th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Ron Capps is the defending Winston champion in the Funny Car category while Gary Scelzi won the Top Fuel competition last year. Worsham has remained in the top three of the points standings since the Pontiac Excitement Nationals in June. Worsham lost to Force in the final round, but moved from fourth place to second because of the runner-up performance. Worsham and Bazemore have occupied the two spots behind Force since July. Bazemore is coming off a win at the 47th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Sept. 3, hanging on to a slim lead over Worsham. Force has a lead of more than 240 points, causing everyone else in the field to race for a second-place finish in the season standings. "You could throw a blanket over us from second place to sixth place right now," Worsham said. "Whit and his team are hot, but my feeling is there are way too many great teams in the top-10 for any one team to remain that hot for long. With as many good cars as there are in the field, and with all of us being fully capable of beating everyone else, there are going to be some match-ups where people have a chance to make big moves in the points. "The odds are pretty steep that we won't catch Force, but we want second place."

The AutoZone Nationals is the first of three races in a three-week span. Teams move swiftly from Memphis on to the Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., on Sept. 27-30, before heading to the rescheduled event in Reading, Pa., Oct. 4-7. "Whenever we have these multi-race swings, you almost have to look at it like one big triple-sized race," Worsham said. "It all happens so fast. Getting set up, racing, getting to the next track, racing again, and then doing it one more time. Whether you get hot or not, it just seems to roll and before you know it, three races worth of points are in the book." Scelzi, the defending Winston Top Fuel champion, won nine events last year including the AutoZone Nationals. This season, Scelzi has remained in the top five in the standings, posting one win and three runner-up finishes. When Capps beat Bazemore in the finals last season, it broke a 46-race winless streak that dated back to October 1998. This year, Capps has two victories and two runner-up finishes. He stands in fourth place, less than 10 points away from Worsham.

-NHRA-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi