Worsham Working his Way Back to the Top; NHRA Makes its Way Back to Maple Grove Raceway MOHNTON, Pa.- This is the time of year when racers have two choices: race for the championship or start testing for the upcoming year. By now the standings...
Worsham Working his Way Back to the Top; NHRA Makes its Way Back to Maple Grove Raceway
MOHNTON, Pa.- This is the time of year when racers have two choices: race for the championship or start testing for the upcoming year. By now the standings have a turned the top 10 into the haves and have nots, sorting the championship contenders from, well, the rest of the standings.
Funny Car driver Del Worsham doesn't even want to think about it. The driver of the red Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevy Monte Carlo held the points lead following seven of the first 11 NHRA POWERade events. In that span, he earned three victories and lost in the final round just once.
Now, however, Worsham has slipped into fourth place and is looking to get back into the winner's circle.
"I know some guys say they don't care where they end up if they're not in first place," Worsham said. "Everybody feels differently about it, and if that's how they feel, that's fine. I just know that we do care. Our guys want to finish as high as we can, especially considering the first half (of the season) that we had.
"We have five races left and we're only 66 points out of second place. That's the good news. On the flip side, (Tim) Wilkerson is in seventh place and he's only 68 points behind us. It's going to be a wild finish."
Worsham and the rest of the Funny Car category will be scrapping for each and every POWERade point possible as the NHRA makes its annual trip to Maple Grove Raceway for the 20th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Sept. 16-19. Tony Schumacher, Tim Wilkerson, Warren Johnson and Michael Phillips are the defending winners of the $1.7 million race, the 19th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Worsham said he is confident going into the Lucas Oil Nationals - a feeling he hasn't had for some time. After the six-day marathon that is the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals was over on Labor Day, Worsham and the rest of the crew stayed behind and made some test passes in hopes of finding the perfect combination.
"We stayed over a day and made some great test laps," Worsham said. "For the first time since Denver (in July), I'm actually heading to a race thinking we're moving in the right direction. Now we've got some flexibility to hop the car up without knowing it's just going to spin. The rest of the season will give us a chance to learn some new limits and push our performance again. We haven't been able to push the car at all lately."
Of course, since the team will be racing at Maple Grove Raceway, Worsham is hoping they won't push the car too much. After all, he has made some highlight reels courtesy of his past performance in Reading.
Worsham had an explosion at Maple Grove in 2001, and repeated that performance in 2003. During last year's run, Worsham detonated a motor at the finish line during the first round. Worsham won the race, but lost the body of the car and bounced off the guard walls before coming to rest in the sand pits at the track's end. Worsham was not injured in either incident.
"The whole thing last year was just unbelievable," Worsham said. "We were cruising down there, got the win light and then all I saw was orange fire followed by daylight. The body just disintegrated and as it flew off all four wheels were off the ground. There was a great picture on the Internet, showing the car right as it blew up. The only thing making contact with the track is the weight bar on the front.
"If we're going to be all over the Internet again this year, I'd rather it be for winning the race."