Worsham takes ’15 Camry to winners circle at Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas

NOVEMBER 2, 2014

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Nov. 2, 2014) – Del Worsham laid down a blistering 4.065-second pass to defeat John Force and give the 2015 Toyota Camry body its first Funny Car victory in the Toyota Nationals Sunday at The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Worsham defeated Jeff Arend, Ron Capps and Matt Hagan before eliminating Force for the win – running the quickest Funny Car pass of the day in the semi-finals with a 4.059-second run.

The victory was his 35th career NHRA victory and his 27th in a Funny Car, but his first Funny Car win since Richmond in 2009. He moved into Top Fuel in 2011, winning eight races and the world championship before taking a one-year hiatus from the driver’s seat. He returned to Funny Car racing last season.

“It’s been a crazy day,” said Worsham, who earned the fifth overall win for a Camry this season. “I had a good feeling all day. It feels great to win the debut of the new 2015 Camry body and to do it at the Toyota Nationals makes it even more special. This DHL Toyota team has just been working so hard and we’ve been close, but it’s never easy out here. It’s been five years since we won in a Funny Car. I never thought it would take two years to win out here (since coming out of retirement for the ’13 season), but the competition in Funny Car is just so tough now. The big teams are very good and the smaller teams have taken really taken a big step up in staying competitive, so there’s never an easy round.”

While Worsham earned the victory today, things didn’t go quite as smoothly for the rest of the Toyota Funny Car contingent. Alexis DeJoria ran one of the quickest passes of the day with a 4.088-second pass, only to be narrowly defeated by Tommy Johnson on a hole-shot. Tony Pedregon also lost in the first round, while Cruz Pedregon didn’t qualify.

In Top Fuel, three Toyota-sponsored cars advanced to the second round. Richie Crampton, Shawn Langdon, Khalid alBalooshi all earned opening-round victories before falling in round two. Crampton, who registered three 3.7-second passes in qualifying, defeated Bob Vandergriff in his opening run before a second-round upset by Billy Torrence. Langdon knocked off Steve Torrence before falling to eventual race winner Spencer Massey, while alBalooshi beat Larry Dixon and lost to J.R. Todd, despite running a 3.78-second pass.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will take next weekend off before concluding the season at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Toyota NHRA Toyota Nationals Post-Race, 2-2-2-2

Toyota Drivers NHRA Finals Results
Top Fuel Car Qual/Fin.
Morgan Lucas Lucas Oil Toyota Top Fuel Dragster 3/Winner
Antron Brown Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster 2/Semis
Richie Crampton GEICO/Lucas Oil Toyota Top Fuel Dragster 1/Rd. 2
Shawn Langdon Al-Anabi Racing Toyota Top Fuel Dragster 11/Rd. 2
Khalid alBalooshi Al-Anabi Racing Toyota Top Fuel Dragster 7/Rd. 1
Funny Car Car Qual/Fin.
Alexis DeJoria Patrόn XO Café Toyota Camry Funny Car 1/Semis
Del Worsham DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car 10/Rd. 2
Cruz Pedregon Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry Funny Car 4/Rd. 1
Chad Head Head Racing Toyota Camry Funny Car 11/Rd. 1
Tony Pedregon Mark Christopher Auto Car Toyota Camry Funny Car 15/Rd. 1

2014 Toyota NHRA Winners (17):
Top Fuel (12): alBalooshi (2), Pomona1, Sonoma; Brown (6), Phoenix, Charlotte, Houston, Chicago, Norwalk, St. Louis; Crampton (2), Englishtown, Indianapolis; Langdon (1), Bristol; Lucas (1) Brainerd

Funny Car (5): DeJoria (3), Phoenix, Las Vegas, Indianapolis; C. Pedregon (1), Englishtown; Worsham (1), Las Vegas2

2014 Toyota Number One Qualifiers (14):
Top Fuel (6): Langdon (3), Gainesville, Charlotte, Norwalk; Brown (3), Las Vegas, Epping, Brainerd Funny Car (8): Pedregon (3), Gainesville, Englishtown, Reading; Worsham (3), Houston, Bristol, Norwalk; DeJoria (2), Atlanta, Charlotte2

Notes:

- Today’s victory was Del Worsham’s first of the season and the 35th of his career with 27 of those coming in Funny Car – and it comes in the debut of the new 2015 Toyota Camry body.

- Del Worsham’s win was his first in Funny Car since Richmond in 2009. He did win the 2011 Top Fuel championship with eight victories before announcing a one-year retirement in 2012.

- Toyota Camrys won both Toyota-sponsored events this season. Cruz Pedregon won the Toyota Summernationals at Englishtown in June to go along with Del Worsham’s victory today at the Toyota Nationals. Worsham also advanced to the finals at Englishtown.

- Today’s victory was the 17th for Toyota-sponsored cars in NHRA Nitro competition this season with 12 coming in Top Fuel and five in Funny Car. Seven different Toyota drivers have won this season – three in Funny Car and four in Top Fuel.

- Del Worsham climbed up to sixth in the Funny Car point standings with his win today.

- As of the second round of eliminations, more than 120 mammograms had been performed over the course of the three-day race weekend in conjunction with the ‘Free Mammograms for the Fans’ program presented by Alexis DeJoria Racing. That’s roughly a 30 percent increase from the program’s debut in 2013.

Toyota Nationals Post-race, 3-3-3-3

Quotes:
Del Worsham, DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car (more): “We won a big race in the second round with a 4.09 against Ron Capps, but we knew that a 4.09 wouldn’t beat Matt Hagan. Everybody got together to brainstorm, but I just went my own way and just focused on driving. We popped the 4.05 and that was an amazing run. This Toyota Camry was awesome today. It’s been a long time coming. I’m proud to be back in the Winner’s Circle at Las Vegas in a Funny Car. Funny Car in 2009 wasn’t nearly as competitive as it is now. The cars at the top were fast then, but now it’s 15 or 16 cars that are fast. You have to have a near perfect day to win.”

Alexis DeJoria, Patron XO Café” Toyota Camry Funny Car: “It happens (losing on a hole-shot despite a quicker pass), that’s all I can really say about that. I just want to thank my team for giving me a great car. I’ll just have to turn it around in Pomona. (‘Free Mammograms for the Fans’ program presented by Alexis DeJoria Racing) Once again, we came out to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Nevada Health Centers’ mammovan in an effort to provide free mammograms to the women of the racing community, and beyond. The program was a huge success and we surpassed what we did last year. That in it of itself is a win.”

Richie Crampton, GEICO/Lucas Oil Toyota Top Fuel dragster: "It was a decent outing but we all wanted more, to be honest. A few of the drivers we're very close to in the Mello Yello points went out early, and I feel like we had a great chance to move up a spot or two but it wasn't meant to be. We ran OK today. We had some mechanical issues here but that's actually pretty normal for this track because the air is a bit thinner. It's quite a challenge for the crew to back the car down when conditions aren't as good as they were earlier in the weekend. It's a very fine line between just right and too much or too little when you're applying horsepower."

Shawn Langdon, Al-Anabi Racing Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “We had a chance; it was a great feeling to know that with Tony (Schumacher) and Doug (Kalitta) going out in the first round, we had a chance to make up a lot of ground in the point standings, but we couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. We’ve had one of those years. It’s been tough fighting through the tune-up bugs this season, but we continue to just try to get our car running well again.”

Khalid alBalooshi, Al-Anabi Racing Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “We have been taking it step by step by step, and our Al-Anabi team is doing a good job. We made two very good runs today, but I think, in the second round, we just raced the wrong car at the wrong time. If you run 3.78, most times you will win the race, but we just met the wrong car at the wrong time. This is drag racing. If we had run somebody else, we would have had a good chance to win, but it is what it is.”

Top Fuel Championship Points Behind Leader (2594)
4. Shawn Langdon 2419 - 175
7. Antron Brown 2405 - 189
8. Khalid alBalooshi 2326 - 268
9. Richie Crampton 2299 - 295
Funny Car Championship Points Behind Leader (2628)
6. Del Worsham 2393 - 235
7. Alexis DeJoria 2382 - 246
10. Cruz Pedregon 2244 - 384
14. Tony Pedregon 750 - NA
15. Chad Head 733 - NA


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