Worsham, Edwards, Brown lead Vegas NHRA qualifiers
Del Worsham raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car Saturday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Antron Brown and Mike Edwards also will lead their respective categories into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations as the No. 1 qualifiers at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Worsham was able to overcome the hot track conditions that has thrown a curveball to all of the race teams this weekend and produce an eye-popping run in the final session. He powered his Al-Anabi Racing Toyota Solara to a 4.187-second run at 297.75 mph to earn his first No. 1 position since the 2007 season, and fifth overall.
Worsham, who has recorded three first round losses in the first five races, hopes this top qualifying effort will be the start of a turnaround for his season.
“It's been a frustrating year,” Worsham said. “When the track's been above 100 degrees we've just had a heck of a time getting down the track. [Crew chief] Dickie Venables, based on past performance, has just been great in those conditions, so he's been very frustrated, along with [team manager] Alan Johnson and [assistant crew chief] Kurt Elliott. Yesterday's 4.23 run was actually better than that because we just ran it so slow through the middle of the track and the top end to make sure we got down there that we kind of left a little on the table, so the 4.18 wasn't a total shocker.”
Ashley Force Hood dropped to second with her 4.195 at 295.14 in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Matt Hagan is third in his DieHard Dodge Charger with a 4.217 at 297.16.
Worsham, who will face veteran driver Jim Head in the first round of eliminations, expects a tough day of racing ahead on Sunday with the weather forecast calling for more temperatures in the mid to high 80s.
“I'm still a little worried that we have to go down the track four times tomorrow and we went down the track half the time today, so we really need to work on making sure it's consistent,” Worsham said. “That has been our problem when the track's been above 100, so hopefully after this weekend with the data that they have and all of Dickie's racing experience will pay off.”
In Top Fuel, Brown claimed his second No. 1 of the season and 23rd of his career with his run from Friday of 3.881 at 316.60 in his Matco Tools dragster.
“We're happy with the whole effort this weekend,” said Brown, who will face Rob Passey in the opening round. “The car ran exactly what we wanted it to, and we're looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. It's going to be a little hotter. The sun's going to be out, and we're going to race in the prime time of the day. It's definitely going to be a catfight tomorrow down that racetrack. We're not going to be fighting the other person in the other lane, we're going to be fighting to get down the racetrack. It's going to make it really challenging for the crew chiefs, but I like my odds with the guys in my pit area.”
Houston winner Larry Dixon was second in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.894 at 314.24, while Doug Kalitta anchored third in his Technicoat Dragster with a 3.909 at 315.56.
Defending Pro Stock world champ Edwards improved on his leading performance from Friday with a 6.687-second run at 205.88 mph in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to earn his third consecutive top qualifying position at this track, his fifth No. 1 of the season and 27th of his career. Edwards will meet Rickie Jones in the first round of eliminations.
“This morning was definitely better for several teams, and we just made an exceptionally nice run,” Edwards said. “I'm very proud of my guys. If tomorrow is like it is today, I'd like to stay in that left lane; it seems like we've got a better handle on it. If the sun's out, you're going to see exactly what we saw today. It will be faster in the morning, and as the day goes on, it will be hotter and greasier, so you'll just have to make the adjustments.”
Ron Krisher is second in his Valvoline Chevy Cobalt with a 6.716 at 205.38 and Rodger Brogdon is third in his Attitude Apparell/Kent Services Trucking GXP with a 6.725 at 205.16.