Former NHRA championship crew chief Tommy DeLago, right, will tune the Tequila Patron Funny Car of Alexis DeJoria, center, with Glen Huszar, left.
Kalitta Motorsports, helmed by drag racing icon Connie Kalitta, has announced that one recent NHRA world champion has been added to the team's roster and another recent NHRA world champion, already on the team, will return to a familiar assignment in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Tommy DeLago has been tapped as the crew chief on the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by 2012 rookie of the year candidate Alexis DeJoria, and Del Worsham has been named as driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car.
DeLago, a 43-year-old native of Benicia, Calif., will be beginning his second stint at Kalitta Motorsports; he worked for the team from 1996 until 1999. Among DeLago's many tuning achievements are the 2011 NHRA Funny Car championship with driver Matt Hagan and becoming the first crew chief to guide a nitro-fueled Funny Car to a pass quicker than four seconds (3.995, Charlotte 2, 2011). DeLago served with other highly successful current and former nitro crew chiefs as a crewmember under the tuning tutelage of drag racing legend Ed “the Ace” McCulloch from 1997 until 1998 with Kalitta Motorsports.
“Glen [Huszar] and I are very excited about the opportunity of coming back to Kalitta Motorsports,” DeLago said. “Working for Connie is the best job in drag racing. He's a pioneer in the sport and a great guy to work for. He's always more than willing to try new things, and that's one of the things I admire most about him.
“Our goal for the 2013 season is not to change what was already put into place on the Patrón Funny Car but be an addition and keep improving on what Del and the team have implemented this past year, and we look forward to being a part of a prominent and competitive team for years to come.”
Huszar, who was an integral part of DeLago's success with Hagan, has joined Kalitta Motorsports as co-crew chief on the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car. The crew of mechanical specialists on the Tequila Patrón team remains intact from the 2012 season.
Del Worsham returns to the cockpit after one season of tuning DeJoria's Funny Car.
Worsham, a 21-year Funny Car driving veteran and the 2011 Top Fuel driving champion, will relinquish his crew chief position to DeLago and return to the driver's seat for Kalitta Motorsports as the pilot of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car.
Worsham, a 42-year-old resident of Villa Park, Calif., is No. 8 on NHRA's all-time Funny Car win list with 25 victories in the flopper class. Before his brief yet championship-winning campaign last year and sandwiched around a limited run in Top Fuel from 1993 until 1995, Worsham and his dad, Chuck, were a Funny Car class stalwart with their family-owned operation from 1991 until 2008.
“I'm ready to get back in the seat,” Worsham stated. “It's only been a year, so maybe it won't take long to knock the rust off.
“This really continues to be a dream come true for me and my family. Connie and everyone at Kalitta Motorsports have been our friends for years, and to be able to continue racing with them is truly an honor. Scott [Kalitta] and I were good friends, and I'm humbled to be taking over the controls of his race car. The DHL Funny Car will always be Scott's car.
Scott Kalitta, the late son of Connie and a two-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion (1994-'95), died as a result of injuries suffered in a Funny Car racing accident in June 2008.
“We see no reason why the DHL Toyota Camry won't be very competitive from the time we unload in Pomona [for the first event of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the Winternationals, Feb. 14-17]. We're looking forward to a great season with the DHL hot rod.”
“Obviously, we're excited to have assembled this group to take our Funny Car program to the next level,” Connie remarked. “Jim [Oberhofer, crew chief on Doug Kalitta's Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster and Kalitta Motorsports' vice president of operations] and I have been talking about what to do to put our best foot forward for some time, and when these opportunities arose, I told him to make it happen. Everyone in our organization is very eager to get back out on the track again in 2013 and win races.”
Jeff Arend, who drove the DHL Funny Car from the latter part of the 2008 season until 2012, has been relieved of his duties as driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. Kalitta Motorsports wishes Arend continued success in whatever endeavors he chooses to pursue.
Nick Boninfante and Jon Oberhofer will continue their roles as crew chief and co-crew chief, respectively, on the DHL Funny Car.