WORSHAM WINS FIRST FUNNY CAR TITLE, JOINS EXCLUSIVE CLUB: Del Worsham became just the third driver in NHRA history to win NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships in Top Fuel and Funny Car, joining Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi in the exclusive club. Worsham clinched his first Funny Car title and his second overall—he won the 2011 Top Fuel title—when he won a clutch semifinal race with points rival Jack Beckman, running a 3.92 to the pedaling 4.08 of Beckman. Interestingly, Beckman was holding a national record under his belt, thanks to a 3.884 in the second round, so the race between the top two points runners was in essence a winner-take-all match.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I felt the same exact thing in 2011,” said Worsham. “I’ve been here before, not that that did me any good up there. I’ve got to admit it felt like it was 25 years ago when it was my first run. This team has been behind me and stood behind me, and some of the things that have taken place, they’ve always had my back. We’re racing for Scott [Kalitta], we’re racing for Connie Kalitta, and we’re racing for the entire Kalitta Motorsports. I don’t even know what to say right now. I am just beyond words right now."
HINES CLINCHES FIFTH PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE TITLE: Andrew Hines tied the late Dave Schultz by winning his fifth NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle world title. Sitting in the burnout area, Hines had a ringside seat for the deciding match, in which his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson teammate, Eddie Krawiec, defeated challenger Jerry Savoie, who broke just off the starting line. Hines celebrated briefly, then quickly composed himself and defeated Hector Arana Jr. to reach the semifinals of the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.
“I’ve just been trying to keep my head level,” said Hines, who at 32 is the youngest NHRA Pro to win five world championships. “My outstanding Harley-Davidson team did a great job of keeping me focused and keeping the pressure off of me. It was awesome that my wife [Tanya] got to give me a kiss right before I ran, and thanks to my teammate for helping to get the job done. I guess he put the fear of Harley into them. Five championships is pretty awesome.”
WORSHAM CLINCHES EVENT, SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP; LANGDON, JOHNSON, KRAWIEC ALSO SCORE WINS: Del Worsham claimed his second NHRA world championship title and first in Funny Car, then raced to the event victory Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals near Los Angeles. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) joined Worsham in the winner’s circle at the final playoff race of the NHRA Mello Yello Series Countdown to the Championship. Langdon earned his second Top Fuel win of the season, sweeping both Wallys at this track for the second time in his career. Langdon, who won the season-opening Winternationals in the cockpit of an Alan Johnson Racing dragster, defeated Antron Brown in the final round in a Don Schumacher Racing machine. Langdon powered his Red Fuel dragster to a 3.715 at 332.43 to finish in front of the recently crowned world champion, who posted a 3.732 at 321.73 in his Matco Tools dragster.
“I love this track,” said Langdon, the 2013 world champ who now has 11 victories. “It has always had a special place in my heart. I grew up right around the corner [Mira Loma, California]. I was always out here watching my heroes race. I have so many great memories out at this track. Luckily, I’ve had a good career here. It makes it sweet to share these special memories with your family and friends."
He Said, She Said
“There are so few people that get the opportunity to win it, especially in Pro Stock to receive that award. We had a heck of a year, and that was due to the people that we surrounded ourselves with. It means a lot to all of us. Not just me. My goal for the year was to try to win a race and get to the Countdown. We ended up doing everything our goals were and kept pushing hard and it surpassed everything we thought we could do."
—Pro Stock driver Drew Skillman who was named the winner of the $20,000 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the top NHRA rookie performer of the year. Skillman advanced to his first final round in his pro debut at the season-opening NHRA Winternationals at Pomona. He then posted a runner-up finish at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, and finally earned his first victory at the AAA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. Skillman was the only rookie driver to qualify for the Countdown playoffs, and he finished fifth in the Pro Stock points standings. The driver of the Ray Skillman Chevrolet Chevy Camaro received the award based on votes from a panel of the nation’s top motorsports journalists. The other candidates in the rookie class were John Bojec (Funny Car), Bob Butner (Pro Stock), Jenna Haddock (Top Fuel), John Hale (Funny Car), Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock) and Alan Prusiensky (Pro Stock). The award was given to Skillman during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series awards ceremony held in Los Angeles on Monday night.
Inside the Numbers
17: Number of live Sunday finals shows, including four on the FOX broadcast network that officials from NHRA and FOX Sports have unveiled for the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series television schedule. Also announced is eight primetime Friday-night qualifying shows. The four Sunday finals shows that will air live on the FOX broadcast network will include each stop in the three-race NHRA Western Swing and the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals from Indianapolis. In all, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and FOX will air more than 120 hours of original television programming around the NHRA. FOX Sports’ combined networks, including FOX, FS1 and FS2, will air more than 450 hours of programming throughout the year, including coverage of the Lucas Oil Series, J&A Service Pro Mod Series and repeats of Mello Yello Series race coverage.
Did You Know
CHEVROLET WINS NHRA MANUFACTURERS CUP: For the 21st time overall and second consecutive season, Chevrolet was named the NHRA Manufacturers Cup winner. The Cup was presented to Chevrolet representatives during the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series awards ceremony in Hollywood. The Manufacturers Cup goes to the automobile manufacturer whose current-year model earns the most points for qualifying and category victories at NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national and Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series regional and divisional events.
“Chevrolet is honored to win the NHRA Manufacturers Cup for the 21st time,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president, performance vehicles and motorsports. “This recognition is the result of the hard work and dedication by our Chevrolet Camaro SS teams in the Pro Stock and Funny Car classes, as well as our COPO Camaro teams and drivers in the Sportsman classes. It takes a collective effort to earn this award, and we thank the drivers, crew and all who made this possible.”