Del Worsham (LEFT) became the 15th driver in NHRA history to win races in Top Fuel and Funny Car when he defeated seven-time champion Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel final round of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals Sunday at Gainesville Raceway. The other winners were Mike Neff (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
Worsham was four-thousandths slower (.044 to .040) on the tree in his Al-Anabi dragster and eight-thousands quicker (3.858 to 3.866) on the track for a finish-line winning margin of an almost imperceptible .004. It was the first win in Top Fuel for Worsham after compiling 25 wins in a Funny Car career that dates to 1990.
“It feels great (to have won in both classes). I actually had a chance at the U.S. Nationals in 1993, could have won in Top Fuel, and I made a huge mistake, red light against Kenny Bernstein, and he went on to win. I felt bad about that and it's kind of weighed on me for 20 years…” Worsham said half seriously.
“It is almost surreal, I'm driving (2010 Top Fuel champion and teammate) Larry (Dixon)'s car from last year, it won 12 races last year, now it's won 13. It shouldn't surprise anyone (that it's back in the winner's circle, but) it surprises me,” he said.
Also on Sunday, 2004 NASCAR champion Kurt Busch made his first NHRA Full Throttle Series start in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class and he acquitted himself well in his Shell Dodge Avenger, losing by less than a car length (.031sec) in the first round to seventh-year pro Erica Enders, the subject of the Disney original movie Right on Track.
“It was the best graph we've put together in all of our testing, in all of our rounds here in Gainesville – we hit all the shift marks,” said Busch, who was pleased overall with his performance. “We just came up short.”
Busch trailed at the start with a .049 reaction time to Enders' .021 and that was essentially the difference in the race as his elapsed time of 6.541sec was all but a dead heat with Enders' 6.538 in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt.
“What's amazing is (the difference in the race is) just three-hundredths of a second; in this game of drag racing, that puts you back on the trailer,” said Busch, who will return to his full-time Sprint Cup duties next weekend in Bristol. “This is a tough sport, I have much more respect after showing up here in Gainesville and doing all of the test runs. I wish I had more time to do NHRA racing, this is a lot of fun.”
In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon (7.819, 99.32) spun the tires on his Snap-on Tools Toyota at the hit of the throttle and was no match for Neff (4.092, 310.48), whose Castrol GTX Ford Mustang was the best performing car in the class all day.
“Just a great day for our whole team. We needed this to keep the Force string going, that's four in a row for Team Force,” said Neff, who's in John Force's car that won the 2010 championship. “The hardest part is just trying not to mess it up as a driver.”
In Pro Stock, Line (6.554, 211.96) defeated Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson (6.545, 212.43) to win his second straight to open the 2011 season and second straight at Gainesville.
It was, almost, a perfect weekend: “We could have got the record,” Line said.
The national record, which Line missed by two-thousandths and Anderson missed by a thousandth, went to Rodger Brogdon with a 6.495 from Friday qualifying.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Karen Stoffer red-lighted to hand the event title to Screamin' Eagle Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson rider Krawiec, who nonetheless ran a near-perfect 6.847 at 197.08. The win came on a blistering quick track on which Hector Arana set the national record for elapsed time (6.777) and Krawiec set the national record for speed (199.26).
“Gainesville, when you come here, you know you're going to go fast,” said Krawiec, who won his second straight Gatornationals. “This track had some killer conditions, it was meant to go fast.”
The NHRA Full Throttle Series continues April 1-3, in Las Vegas with the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Final finishing order:
1. Del Worsham; 2. Tony Schumacher; 3. Larry Dixon; 4. Spencer Massey; 5. Shawn Langdon; 6. Steve Torrence; 7. Antron Brown; 8. Doug Foley; 9. David Grubnic; 10. Doug Kalitta; 11. Brandon Bernstein; 12. Clay Millican; 13. Terry McMillen; 14. Morgan Lucas; 15. Chris Karamesines; 16. Dom Lagana.
1. Mike Neff; 2. Cruz Pedregon; 3. Matt Hagan; 4. Jack Beckman; 5. Bob Tasca III; 6. Jeff Arend; 7. Robert Hight; 8. Johnny Gray; 9. John Force; 10. Jim Head; 11. Bob Bode; 12. Ron Capps; 13. Tim Wilkerson; 14. Paul Lee; 15. Tony Pedregon; 16. Brian Thiel.
1. Jason Line; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Rodger Brogdon; 4. Ron Krisher; 5. Erica Enders; 6. Greg Stanfield; 7. Shane Gray; 8. Mike Edwards; 9. Kurt Busch; 10. Warren Johnson; 11. Vincent Nobile; 12. Bob Benza; 13. Larry Morgan; 14. Buddy Perkinson; 15. Kurt Johnson; 16. Allen Johnson.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
1. Eddie Krawiec; 2. Karen Stoffer; 3. LE Tonglet; 4. Hector Arana; 5. Andrew Hines; 6. Matt Smith; 7. Gerald Savoie; 8. Shawn Gann; 9. Jim Underdahl; 10. David Hope; 11. Michael Ray; 12. Angie Smith; 13. Steve Johnson; 14. Katie Sullivan; 15. Mike Berry; 16. Joe DeSantis.
Final round-by-round results
Top Fuel – Del Worsham, 3.858 seconds, 318.99 mph def. Tony Schumacher, 3.866 seconds, 318.39 mph.
Funny Car – Mike Neff, Ford Mustang, 4.092, 310.48 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Solara, 7.819, 99.32.
Pro Stock – Jason Line, Pontiac GXP, 6.554, 211.96 def. Greg Anderson, GXP, 6.545, 212.43.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.847, 197.08 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, foul.