Worsham, Hagan celebrate titles with finale wins; Stanfield, Hines also score
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Del Worsham and Matt Hagan raced to their first NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championship titles and also earned race victories Sunday at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals.
Veteran driver Worsham captured the Top Fuel season crown, and Hagan avenged last season’s runner-up performance by taking the Funny Car title. Eddie Krawiec claimed his second Pro Stock Motorcycle championship. Pro Stock champ Jason Line secured his title two weeks ago in Las Vegas.
Greg Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the season-ending race in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Longtime Funny Car racer Worsham, 41, claimed the Top Fuel championship in dramatic fashion by edging series challenger Spencer Massey at the finish line in the winner-take-all semifinal round. He went on to claim his eighth victory of the season and 33rd of his career by outrunning Tony Schumacher in the final round. Worsham powered his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a 3.796 second run at 318.02 mph to finish just in front of Schumacher’s U.S. Army machine, which posted a 3.799 at 321.50 and went winless for the season for the first time since the 2001 season.
“The semifinal round was the biggest of my 21 year career as far as what was at stake,” Worsham said. “Spencer Massey is a great competitor. It was so close, I didn’t know if I had won. When I saw the ESPN cameras coming over to me, it was like, wow, I was speechless after that round.”
The $500,000 Full Throttle championship is the second consecutive and 10th overall in Top Fuel for Worsham’s team manager, Alan Johnson.
“Alan Johnson’s abilities are unmatched, he’s unbelievable and a great motivator,” Worsham said. “[Team owner] Sheikh Khalid put this team together with Alan, and Brian Husen did great in his first season as a crew chief. I was really down after [the race in] Reading, and we weren’t very good in Phoenix. Alan called me, and Brian into his trailer after Phoenix and said we’re going to roll out a new chassis. This new car has been great for us.”
In Funny Car, Virginia cattle rancher Hagan, 28, avenged his painful loss to John Force last year by powering past teammate Jack Beckman in the quarterfinals and then outrunning two-time champ Cruz Pedregon in the semifinals to score his first world championship. He then claimed his second win of the season and fifth of his career by posting a track record performance of 4.009 at 317.79 in his DieHard Dodge Charger to hold off final-round opponent Robert Hight in the quickest side-by-side race in Funny Car history. Hight trailed with a 4.031 at 318.92 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang.
“You come in expecting the worst and hoping for the best,” Hagan said. “It really is truly amazing this weekend to win the championship and win the race. It’s a testimony to all of my guys who have worked so hard on this DieHard team. They were so relaxed today. Being in that situation last year with John Force really helped us. I hate the phrase you’ve gotta lose one to win one, but in this case, it’s sort of true. Last year, we were trying so hard to make everything happen that we kind of chased it away I think, and this year, we just let it all come to us.”
Hagan earned $500,000 for the championship title, which is the first for crew chief Tommy DeLago and the second Funny Car title for team owner Don Schumacher, who also won in 2005 with Gary Scelzi.
“I am really happy for DieHard and all the associates on the car,” Hagan said. “These Funny Car trophies are so hard to come by. When you can win it all, you have truly accomplished something.”
Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Krawiec took his second Pro Stock Motorcycle title by winning the second round, which closed out his lone championship challenger Hector Arana Jr.
“This has been my championship all year long,” Krawiec said. “This championship validates the championship I won in 2008 when I didn’t win any races. For Andrew and I to go to the final two races and be winner and runner-up is amazing. Plus to have the opportunity to race with such great competitors, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Hines earned his second win of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, outrunning newly crowned champ Krawiec in the final. Hines took his 25th career victory with a 6.814 at 196.39 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, while Krawiec fouled at the start on his Harley-Davidson.
“Pomona has always been on my list, and it’s been a thorn in my side,” Hines said. “I’ve been racing here for 10 years, and it’s been a long road. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs at this track. Today, our guys did an outstanding job. Communication doesn’t need to happen in our pit area because everyone knows what to do. It’s amazing to see our whole team perform. We put both of our V-Rods in the final at the last two races this year and luckily, I was able to get the last win of the year. It’ doesn’t get any better than that.”
In Pro Stock, Stanfield scored his first win of the season and fifth of his career when he defeated Kurt Johnson in the final round. Stanfield finished in 6.597 at 209.59 in his Nitro Fish Pontiac GXP, while Johnson’s GXP broke on the starting line.
“Any time that you win the last race of the season, it makes the winter time a lot better,” Stanfield said. “We’ve been a bit behind in this game for a while, we’re a little bit off, the car has got a lot of runs, and we’ll be hoping to get a new car for next year. It takes a lot of people to put a program like this together. And I have to thank J.D. Coffman of Coffman Trucking and Kenny Koretsky of Nitro Fish for their help. We’re a small team, so we try to run everything really tight. We use our equipment probably longer than we need to. But for them guys, it’s special to give them a win.”
The 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season begins Feb. 9-12 with the 52nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Thursday: Schumacher, Hight, Edwards, Hines take initial leads in Pomona
Friday:Schumacher, Hight, Edwards, Hines hold on to top spots in Pomona
Saturday: Worsham, Hagan take over nitro leads; Edwards, Hines remain atop Pro Stock classes