The 2011 Top Fuel world champ Del Worsham is back in the saddle and is excited as ever to be competing in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
When Worsham hits his home track in Pomona for the 53rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries, Feb. 14-17, he will do so behind the wheel of the Connie Kalitta-owned DHL Toyota Camry, led by crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nick Boninfante Jr.
Worsham, who was stellar in his last season at the controls of a Top Fuel dragster, returns to a very competitive Funny Car category as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season kicks off at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Feb. 14-17. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the tradition-rich event, which will be televised on ESPN2HD.
During the off-season, Kalitta Motorsports named Worsham driver of the DHL Toyota Camry.
“I definitely have some unfinished business there,” said the Villa Park, Calif. native. “I want to try to win a championship in a Funny Car. When this whole thing came about, I was for it. I felt honored that the Kalitta organization asked me to do this. I’m going to really work hard at being the best driver I can be and hopefully bringing something back to the team. The first thing we want to do is qualify for a race. Then we want to try to make the Countdown (to the Championship playoffs). I’d sure like to get in the top 10 and position ourselves to race for a Mello Yello championship in Funny Car, which I originally set out to do 20-something years ago.”
Following his stellar championship season in 2011 as driver of one of the two dragsters fielded by the Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel team, Worsham took on a new role in 2012 as the crew chief for the Tequila Patron Toyota Camry driven by rookie Alexis DeJoria. Now, Worsham and DeJoria will be teammates and competitors in the 2013 Mello Yello season and it’s a relationship Worsham embraces.
“She’s in her second year now and has hundreds of runs under her belt,” said Worsham. “She was definitely evolving pretty fast out there. Any time I see something, I’ll let her know, and I hope she does the same thing for me. I’ve been outside the car for a year, so any help I can get I will take. We are teammates, and we’re going to work together to help each other get the success that we’re after.”
Worsham is no stranger to the ultra-competitive Funny Car class. He was just 20 years old in 1990 when he earned his Funny Car license and became the youngest driver to ever win a Funny Car national event at 21. He earned 25 victories in 38 career finals in a Funny Car. Among his victories was the 2005 NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, the world’s most prestigious drag race. His best Funny Car points finish of second place came in 2004.
“There will probably be a little bit of knocking the rust off,” said the 42-year-old veteran. “As far as just driving the car down the racetrack, I can probably do that. Getting up there and having a good reaction time and keeping the thing in the groove and doing the job of driving everyone expects out of you will come with practice.”
In Top Fuel, Antron Brown returns to defend his historic world championship from a year ago and he will be challenged by a strong field, including seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher, defending event winner Massey, Shawn Langdon, Morgan Lucas, Brandon Bernstein, Doug Kalitta, Bob Vandergriff, Clay Millican and rookie Brittany Force.
This year’s Pro Stock field looks ultra-competitive with some noteworthy alliances and power teams, including four-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. joining forces with defending world champion Allen Johnson. Others to watch in the 200 mph factory hot rod category include fellow Mopar driver Vincent Nobile, Erica Enders-Stevens, the successful KB Racing team Greg Anderson and Jason Line, and 2009 world champ Mike Edwards.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful motorsports attraction on the planet. While visiting the pits, interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway, fans will also want to check out NHRA’s popular Hot Rod Junction presented by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum that offers a spectacular display of many nostalgic dragsters, race cars and hot rods on display.
Fans also will want to take advantage of the popular Championship Sunday Track Walk, which is free to all Sunday ticket holders. This popular event gives fans the opportunity to walk down the legendary drag strip alongside some of the NHRA’s biggest stars.
Also, on Thursday at the track, fans will have the rare opportunity to attend a special Nitro Pit Party and Press Conference to kick-off the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season in the pro pits prior to the first qualifying session of the season. Many of the top stars in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will be featured during the Press Conference, which starts at 11 a.m., including Antron Brown, Courtney Force, Tony Schumacher, Brittany Force, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Allen Johnson, John Force and Del Worsham.
As NHRA continues its Nitro Generation celebration, NHRA is offering free general admission for children 12 and under with a paying adult. Tickets are available online at www.NHRATIX.com or by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at 800-884-NHRA (6472).
• SCHEDULE: Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 and continue at noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.
• TICKETS: Tickets are available online at www.NHRATIX.com or by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at 800-884-NHRA (6472).
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 10 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Feb. 16 and on Sunday, Feb. 17, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. (ET).
• ON THE WEB: Get instant results, access to photos, video and audio clips, and the latest news updates from every NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.NHRA.com.