Compiled by SEMA Editors
DEFENDING FUNNY CAR WORLD CHAMPION WORSHAM EXCITED TO START 2016: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will celebrate 50 years of Funny Car racing during the 2016 season, and reigning Funny Car world champion Del Worsham can think of no better way to cap that celebration than with a second straight world title. The Kalitta Motorsports standout became just the third driver in NHRA history to win a championship in both Top Fuel and Funny Car after holding off Jack Beckman in a thrilling finish to the 2015 season. With his first Funny Car championship on his résumé, Worsham hopes for his first back-to-back championship reign in his 10,000hp DHL Toyota Camry, a journey that starts at the 56th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, February 11–14, at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
“I am ready,” said Worsham, whose four wins in 2015 all came in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. “I feel as excited as I did in 1991 just starting out. I did not defend my 2011 championship, so it will be exciting to run the No. 1 and go out and try to defend our title."
CRAMPTON EAGER FOR CONTINUED SUCCESS IN 2016: Now entering his third season in Top Fuel, Richie Crampton doesn’t take his opportunity for granted. That appreciation to drive the 10,000hp Lucas Oil dragster for Morgan Lucas Racing has already taken the Australia native to incredible places, including five victories and a third-place Top Fuel finish in 2015. That success carried over into the off-season and has Crampton excited for what is ahead during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, starting with this weekend’s 56th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
“Every time I get to put on my firesuit and compete in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, it's what I wanted my whole life,” said Crampton, who has seven career wins. “It's still huge for me to be able to drive for such a good team and compete with the best Top Fuel drivers in the world. The fact that I've staked my claim in the top five Top Fuel teams is what I've always wanted. It's fantastic.”
NHRA NITRO SPRING TRAINING CONCLUDES WITH BIG RUNS BY FORCE AND JOHNSON: Tommy Johnson Jr. and Brittany Force posted the quickest runs in their categories Saturday during the final day of NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix. NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams utilized the four-day preseason test session to prepare for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals (February 11–14) at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. The race near Los Angeles is the season-opening event for the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Johnson powered his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger to the unofficial quickest run ever in Funny Car—a 3.874-second run at 318.47 mph. Matt Hagan holds the quickest run in history, 3.879, set in Brainerd last season.
“We ran really well all week, and John [Collins, crew chief] kept saying we weren’t really leaning on it; we were just testing parts to learn some things,” said Johnson, who had a strong season last year with two wins in eight final rounds, three top qualifying efforts and a third-place points finish. “He said we’re going to make one more run, and we’re going to lean on it a little bit. It was a really good run early, and it didn’t run as well at the top end as we were expecting, but a 3.12 to the eighth-mile is pretty awesome.”
He Said, She Said
“We're working toward a level of NHRA coverage that has never been available. Being able to watch the event digitally as if you were there will be a great option for our fans on a worldwide basis. At the same time, we're focusing on bringing NHRA racing to TV networks around the globe. It will all be worth waiting for.”
—NHRA vice president of broadcast and digital content Ken Adelson on the launching of a premium live streaming service, anticipated to start in March 2016, which will deliver live video streams from NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events to Internet-connected devices, including mobile devices. This subscription service will give NHRA fans around the world the chance to see all of the action from NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events like never before. NHRA All Access will feature live and continuous coverage of all Pro and most Sportsman races from the qualifying runs on Friday through the finals on Sunday. The live stream of the in-venue feed will include audio from track announcers and video from trackside big screen displays. Subscribers will be able to experience all of the racing action as if they were sitting in the stands.
Inside the Numbers
6: Number of hours of coverage on FOX Sports 1 during this weekend’s Circle K NHRA Winternationals. The series will debut on the new broadcast partner Friday on FS1 with one hour of qualifying coverage that begins at 10:00 p.m. (EST). On Saturday they will air two hours of qualifying coverage starting at 1:00 p.m. (EST). On Sunday the finals of the Circle K NHRA Winternationals will be covered live with three hours of coverage beginning at 5:00 p.m. (EST).
Did You Know
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES DRIVERS MEET WITH MEDIA: More than 20 drivers in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series took part in a media season kick-off media day at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California, on Wednesday. Drivers were interviewed by local and national media, took headshots, were interviewed for the Fox Sports broadcasts, and select drivers took part in a press conference. All drivers are anxious to start the season and return to racing following the off season.
“I’m excited how the off season went. It isn’t just the process we made at JFR but all the progress made at NHRA," said John Force Racing Funny Car driver and 2009 Funny Car world champion Robert Hight. “All the new announcements, new TV package, this is the most productive off season that I’ve ever experienced. I’m excited about the sport as a whole and my chances for winning a championship in Funny Car."