Sonoma: Worsham driving in defense of title

SONOMA, Calif.- Watch out American travelers, the Worsham's are on the road. Funny Car driver Del Worsham bought a motor home during the offseason just so he could take his wife and infant twin daughters on the road. "Stand back, we're all...

SONOMA, Calif.- Watch out American travelers, the Worsham's are on the road. Funny Car driver Del Worsham bought a motor home during the offseason just so he could take his wife and infant twin daughters on the road.

"Stand back, we're all coming to the races now," Worsham said with a laugh. "This is going to be exciting and I am looking forward to having my family with me. The girls are doing great and we're going to try this road thing and see how it goes. (Daughters) Madelyn and Katelyn and (wife) Connie and I are going to travel together as much as possible.

"I don't want my kids to grow up without me. A lot of other racers bring their families on the road and it's worked pretty well. We have a lot of friends who also will be traveling, bringing their motor homes, so we have a lot of help coming too."

Being surrounded by his family on the road will allow Worsham to focus on racing. Worsham can also spend some quality time preparing to defend his Funny Car event title at the 15th annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals, Aug. 2-4, at the recently renovated Infineon Raceway. Kenny Bernstein and Tom Martino also are the defending winners of the $1.8 million event. It is the 15th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

So far this season, Worsham is .500 when it comes to defending his title in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird. The 32-year-old driver from Chino Hills, Calif., won four times last year. The Sonoma victory was the third of the season. Prior to that, he won at the Houston and Chicago events. This season, he was unsuccessful in his quest to earn back-to-back titles in Houston. He did, however, earn the Chicago win.

"We are actually pretty good at defending our titles," Worsham said. "We know that Sonoma is going to be a lot different than last year because of all of the changes they have made. It's like that anytime we go to a new track. But that doesn't matter to this team. We go into every race trying to win, regardless of how we have done in the past."

While the track has undergone a two-year, $50 million renovation process, the one thing that has not changed is the weather. August in the wine country of Northern California is usually warm. The teams know that and Worsham said they are prepared to deal with hot temperatures.

"To be honest, all of the changes to the track should be very positive because last year that track was probably one of the worst that we raced on," Worsham said. "I'm looking forward to racing there this season. It's going to be one of the better tracks we race on now. But we also know that we are going to have to be careful when it comes to tuning the car because of the heat.

"To win last year, we just got down the track every run. We didn't smoke the tires, but we didn't try to run faster than we needed to either. We had to gamble a little, but we knew that we couldn't push the car to run super-quick in those conditions."

The track may be hot, but somehow, Worsham always comes home from his trip to the Bay Area with new clothes. "It's hard to spend a lot of time in the area because we race three times in three weeks and that is the last race," Worsham said. "We usually are ready to go home right after the race. The one place we always go to is San Francisco. Every year I always forget that it is going to be cold, so I always have to buy a sweatshirt. I have a ton of sweatshirts from San Francisco."

Besides the victory in Chicago, Worsham also won in Phoenix. Going into the West Coast Swing, which also consists of races in Denver and Seattle prior to Sonoma, Worsham is No. 4 in the standings. A few good showings in the three-week Swing is just what the team needs.

"We've learned a few things throughout the year," Worsham said.

"We thought we were in good shape, but then we started having problems getting through the middle of the track. We've spent a lot of time working on our setup to avoid that problem anymore.

"If we want to have any shot at the title at all, we need to run well in the West Coast Swing, including doing our best to defend the title at Sonoma. It would really help us as far as the points go."

If he succeeds, the lengthy road trip with the entire family will have a very happy ending.

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Del Worsham , Tom Martino