A model of consistency thus far during the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Del Worsham advanced to his second final round of the year to lead the Funny Car points for the first time since returning to the class in 2013.

The best way to keep that strong start going for Worsham is a win at the site of his last victory, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the venue for this weekend’s 16th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.

Worsham broke a 46-race winless streak six months ago at the fall race in Las Vegas during the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, also picking up his first Funny Car victory since 2009. With those good vibes, Worsham is ready to keep his hot start going in 2015 at the controls of his 10,000-horsepower DHL Toyota Camry.

worsham“We are off to a great start,” Worsham said. “I’ve been most impressed with the consistency of our DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. With the exception of a first-round loss in Gainesville, our Camry has performed and responded to everything we’ve asked. I think if we just continue to learn and trust our judgment, the DHL team should do well all season.”

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) won this event one year ago. The race, which will be televised on ESPN2, marks the fifth of 24 events during a 2015 season in which Worsham has had his best early-season start since returning to the class.

In addition to the final-round appearance at the recent NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Worsham, the 2011 Top Fuel world champion, advanced to the championship round in Phoenix before falling to reigning Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan.

Along with impressive consistency to open the season, Worsham and his Kalitta Motorsports team, led by crew chiefs Nick Boninfante and Jon Oberhofer, have shown the ability to run quick, going 3.997 in Phoenix in addition to a number of low 4.00s throughout the first four races. That is certainly impressive, but Worsham might be most impressed with how well the entire Kalitta Motorsports team, which includes Top Fuel drivers Doug Kalitta and J.R. Todd and Funny Car driver DeJoria, continues to mesh.

“Kalitta Motorsports is very close-knit, and it very much reminds me of racing with my dad [Chuck Worsham],” Worsham said. “All the info is available to all teams. Nothing is hidden, and everyone wants every team to do well. I think everyone being close pulls the teams and drivers together, and everyone wants to help their fellow employees. It makes you want to do better for the team.”

worsham-1Worsham, who has 34 victories (26 in Funny Car), won’t be unchallenged for the points lead in the loaded Funny Car class. Kalitta Motorsports Funny Car drivers made a clean sweep in Vegas last year, but many drivers are ready to grab those titles from the Kalitta team.

Robert Hight, who fell in the final round to DeJoria, is seeking his first win at the track since 2012 and will be joined by John Force Racing teammates John Force and Courtney Force. Other top stars include five-time Vegas winner Ron Capps, defending world champ Hagan, Tommy Johnson Jr., Charlotte winner Jack Beckman, and two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon.

But Worsham and his team also have a solid game plan to address what it takes to be successful this weekend in Las Vegas, which also marks a return to conventional drag racing following the Four-Wide Nationals.

“NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing in Las Vegas takes some discipline,” Worsham said. “Las Vegas is a great city with lots to do, but we don’t want to forget why we are there. It can also be warm, so a summertime tune-up could already be necessary. I don’t feel there is any big adjustment from four-wide to conventional drag racing. I think it should be a piece of cake after [racing] in Charlotte. You still have to remember what side of the track you’re on.”

In Top Fuel, reigning world champion Schumacher began his run for his category-record eighth title at this event last season, defeating Kalitta in the final. Schumacher, the winningest driver in Las Vegas history with eight victories, will have to contend with the likes of three-time world champion Larry Dixon, a five-time winner at The Strip; Spencer Massey; Antron Brown, who won the most recent event in Charlotte; 2013 world champ Shawn Langdon; Richie Crampton; Steve Torrence; J.R. Todd; and Brittany Force.

Pro Stock’s Erica Enders-Stevens made a major statement at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals last season, taking victory in both the national event and the K&N Horsepower Challenge bonus event. Enders-Stevens, who secured a category-leading six wins last year, also finished with her first Pro Stock world title, making her the first woman to win a championship in the category. Her rookie teammate, Drew Skillman, is off to a stellar start, and other championship contenders include Summit Racing Equipment teammates Greg Anderson and Jason Line, Allen Johnson, Rodger Brogdon, Shane Gray, Jonathan Gray, Vincent Nobile, Larry Morgan, who won in Charlotte, and Chris McGaha.

The prestigious K&N Horsepower Challenge will kick off the Pro Stock event in style. Eight Pro Stock drivers will duel for bragging rights and a hefty paycheck on Saturday of race weekend. Enders-Stevens is the defending K&N Horsepower Challenge winner.

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 and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds and enjoy cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.

Pro qualifying begins Friday, April 10, with sessions at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, April 11, at 1:10 and 4:05 p.m. Pro Stock runs for the K&N Horsepower Challenge are scheduled for 1, 4, and 5 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 12.

To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, log on to LVMS.com or call 800-644-4444.


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