Worsham, Beckman, Anderson prevail in Charlotte
Del Worsham triumphed for the second time since returning to the Top Fuel ranks, joining Jack Beckman and Greg Anderson in the winner’s circle in Sunday’s NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series second annual 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.
Worsham won for the second time in four races this season, marking his successful return to the Top Fuel ranks after a 16-year run in Funny Car, while Beckman and Anderson each scored their first wins of the year.
Following the unique four-wide setup zMax, the top two drivers from each of opening four brackets moved onto the semi-finals, with the top two in the each of the semis moving onto the final round.
Worsham beat Spencer Massey, Shawn Langdon and Al-Anabi Racing teammate Larry Dixon to win his 27th career NHRA victory, going wire to wire for the weekend - grabbing his first career Top Fuel no.1 qualifier spot and topping the quartets in the opening two rounds to reach his 15th career NHRA final round.
In the final, Massey moved out to the early lead before being tracked down by Dixon, who held the lead until the final 300 feet when Worsham inched ahead to beat Dixon by barely six inches, posting a 3.813 at 319.82 mph over Dixon’s 3.821, 319.90. Massey was third with a 3.892, 304.67 followed by Langdon at 3.974, 294.31
“The one thing I’ve learned about top fuel racing already in my little short career is that it’s a matter of thousandths, and I’ve had three races now that have been won and lost by thousandths, I’m a pretty lucky guy because so far we’ve won all these close ones, like I told (owner) Alan Johnson, this is going to be just a matter of inches,” said Worsham. “Fortunately in the car, the way you sit, you cannot see the other guy that close to you so you really don’t know how close you are.
“It’s very satisfying to be able to against win three of the best leaders in the class, I’m not surprised the car could do it, I’m driving the car that Larry Dixon won the championship with last year, I’m just lucky to be the guy driving it.”
Al-Anabi Racing has now won 14 straight final round appearances, dating back to Larry Dixon’s 12-0 run last season.
“With this team, and the capabilities they have, there’s no telling how far we can go,” said Worsham. “We saw Larry (Dixon) win 12 races last year, I’m going to ride it out as long as it can last. I’d hate to peak too early - I hope this is just a build-up to for what’s coming when we get in the Countdown.”
Beckman took control early in the final, jumping out to a fast start on a .067 light and never looking back, putting up a 4.120 at 309.63 to beat Tasca by .0326 seconds for his 10th Funny Car Wally at second at zMax Dragway.
Tasca posted a 4.137, 311.05, followed by Wilkerson (4.158, 306.95) and Head (4.242, 268.17)
“I think we earned everything we got this weekend,” said Beckman. “We flexed our muscles right out of the trailer. We took a home run swing on Friday and under-powered the racecar, then we hauled butt on Saturday and overpowered the track. That gave us two test runs at a track we needed to zero in on.
“At any other racetrack, you’ve got to perform consistently and you’ve got to do it for four rounds - this just happens to be a race where you can do it for three rounds, you literally didn’t have to win until the third round to get the trophy.”
Hometown favorite Greg Anderson won the Pro Stock duel, beating out Greg Stanfield, Dave Connolly and Vincent Nobile for his second consecutive zMax victory and 66th of his career
Anderson was the only final round winner to make it to the money round having not won in either of the previous two rounds.
Starting from the second qualifying spot, Anderson finished runner-up in the opening round behind Allen Johnson to advance to the semi-finals, where he finished second to Stanfield to advance to the final round.
Connelly, making his first start of the year after turning wrenches as Erica Enders crew chief, grabbed the early lead in the final until Stanfield and Anderson closed in. Anderson inched ahead of Stanfield at the 1000-foot mark and held on to win by .005 seconds – less than two feet – to score the victory with a mark of 6.559 at 211.10 mph.
“It’s was a great day, I love this racetrack. It’s home to me,” said Anderson. “To come here and win this race – I’ve said coming in here and said all through the weekend, it’s probably the toughest race we have as a driver, there’s just so much going on at the starting line and you multiply that with four cars up there. I didn’t think I’d be up to the challenge, I’m kind of surprised I survived it and I didn’t screw up.
“The guys did a great job with the race car, that’s the great part of it. When the guys give me such a great horse to ride, it puts your mind at ease, and you can concentrate on all that’s going on out there. I almost feel relieved that it’s over, but I feel very proud – I didn’t think I honestly had it in me as a driver to get it done.”
Stanfield clocked in at 6.559 at 211.10 mph. Connolly was third with a 6.585, 210.73 while Nobile limped across the line with a 17.216 at 50.05 mph.
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