Del Worsham (LEFT) raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel Saturday as rain shortened qualifying at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Matt Hagan, Mike Edwards and Andrew Hines also were qualifying leaders at the season-ending race of the 2011 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
Worsham powered his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to the No. 1 spot early Saturday with a 3.773-second run at 320.05mph. In total Worsham picked up eight bonus points in qualifying and took the points lead in the category by eight points over Spencer Massey heading into Sunday's eliminations.
“We came into this race with a plan to try to make up a couple of points on Spencer and put a round on Antron (Brown), and we couldn't have done any better to this point,” said Worsham. “Being a two-car team and watching Larry (Dixon) go 3.79 ahead of us, I'm sure that (team manager) Alan Johnson, (crew chief) Brian Husen, and Jason (McCulloch, Dixon's crew chief) had a pretty good idea of what it was going to do.”
Worsham's teammate and defending world champion Dixon qualified second for the event and currently sits 47 points behind Worsham in the standings, while third-place driver Brown qualified seventh and is 25 points behind the leader.
In Funny Car, Matt Hagan took the top spot in the class with his run early on Saturday. Hagan drove his DieHard Dodge Charger to a 4.033 at 315.27 to take his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 10th of his career. Hagan also racked up a total of seven bonus points throughout qualifying to give himself a 12-point lead over teammate Jack Beckman heading into eliminations Sunday.
“We're all glad as a team to be back here and back in this hunt,” said Hagan. “We were looking to get another qualifying run in tonight; unfortunately the weather didn't allow that. We have to go forward tomorrow and hopefully make some laps and have a long day. I believe in our team and the guys that got us here, and I believe that (crew chief) Tommy DeLago is going to carry us through this thing. I just have to stand on the pedal and have some fun.”
Cruz Pedregon, who entered the event third in the Funny Car standings, qualified fifth for the event and moved to within 35 points of Hagan, while fourth-place driver Mike Neff qualified third for the race and sits 40 points behind the leader.
In Pro Stock, Edwards drove his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to the No. 1 spot with a run of 6.520 at 210.93. It was Edwards' sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 40th of his career. It was also his third consecutive No. 1 in the Countdown to the Championship.
“We just missed the clutch set-up on both of today's qualifying runs and it was worse in the second session,” said Edwards. “We changed engines this evening for the second session to see if it might run any better, but that didn't happen. We're struggling in the clutch area right now. We made a real nice run on Thursday, but we've just gone backwards since then.”
Hines stayed in the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle after four rounds of qualifying. His Thursday night run of 6.820 at 197.54 on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson was strong enough to give Hines his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and 30th of his career.
“Right now, we're just working on our consistency,” said Hines. “We showed that all through qualifying. I had the quickest bike in three rounds. On that last run, I lost a TPS (throttle position sensor) and the bike was misfiring badly. We slowed up but I'm lucky that happened today and not tomorrow.”
In the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship battle, series leader Krawiec holds a 69-point advantage over rookie rider Hector Arana Jr. The two riders could meet in the semifinals, but if Krawiec wins the second round he will be the champion. Arana Jr. needs Krawiec to lose in the first round and then he needs to win the race to take the title.