POMONA, Calif. — Del Worsham shocked the masses during the opening round of NHRA Funny Car competition Sunday at the Circle K Winternationals, pulling a big upset as he knocked out John Force Racing heavyweight Robert Hight in the opening round.
Worsham, driving the Lucas Oil Toyota Camry, knocked out Hight’s Auto Club/California Highway Patrol Chevrolet Camaro despite leaving the line last, posting a run of 4.008 seconds at 313.15 mph to beat Hight’s losing 4.313 at 213.94.
The former driver of the DHL Toyota Camry for Kalitta Motorsports made up four one-hundredths of a second on the track in his first weekend back with his family-owned team, a rare feat against any JFR car and one that Worsham didn’t take lightly at the top end.
“This is extremely satisfying,” the former Top Fuel champion said. “A lot of work went in to this, and I have to thank the entire Lucas family for their support and for giving me this opportunity. My dad, for wanting to do this (restart the team) this many years into my career … we’re just very lucky.”
“It’s not the fastest car yet, but if you give it time and keep getting down the race track … you can make it into a fast race car. I think if we keep it up, we’ll have something for them.”
Worsham, who won the Top Fuel championship in 2011 for the now-defunct Al-Anabi Racing and added a Funny Car title two years ago with the DHL ‘Yella Fellas’, announced in December that he was returning to the family operation and said at the time that there were many factors that shaped his decision.
“A lot of things really kind of played into it, but the major reason and the biggest thing on my mind, the biggest thing that influenced me to make this decision was I’m not getting any younger, and my dad’s not getting any younger,” Worsham told Competition Plus Magazine in December. “My dad’s out there racing still with our family car, and they’re doing well, and he’s active.”
“This is strictly a personal reason to go back and race with my dad again and get to spend a little bit of time with him while he’s still in a physical condition he can race and I’m still in a physical condition where I can drive.”
Worsham was ultimately defeated in the second round by defending Funny Car champion Ron Capps, a rematch of their final round battle in the 2016 Circle K NHRA Winternationals that was also won by Capps.
Capps pointed out afterwards that he has a lot of respect for Worsham, both as a driver and for his racing ethic.
“A year ago (at the Winternationals) Del and I got it on in the final round and put on a great side-by-side (race) for the fans,” Capps said. “He’s an old soul, Del is. He’s one of the ‘Last Mohicans’ … him and Tim Wilkerson … of drivers that work on (the car), tune it and drive it. Any time you race him, it brings out a little bit more (in your performance).”
Though Worsham went out in the second act, his opening performance on Sunday proved that his drive is as strong as its ever been, and he can’t be counted out against any of his competition.
He’s also got five more guaranteed races to push the needle, as Lucas Oil will sponsor Worsham Motorsports in the opening half-dozen races of the season, and that could be scary for the rest of the Funny Car field.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
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