Worsham, Hagan Win NHRA Titles in Season Finale
Eddie Krawiec won his second-career Pro Stock Motorcycle title over Hector Arana, Jr. but lost out in his bid to win the event to top qualifier Andrew Hines in the final round. Greg Stansfield took the victory in Pro Stock to close out the season.
In true championship fashion the points battle in Top Fuel and Funny Car in came down to a pair of head-to-head matchups in the semi-finals in the last race of the 10-race Countdown to the Championship.
Worsham had already put himself in position to win the title by coming back to take the no. 1 qualifier spot during Saturday’s rain-shortened qualifying session, earning eight bonus points to put him out ahead of Massey coming into Sunday’s eliminations.
After knocking off Mike Ashley and David Grubnic, Worsham faced off against Massey in the semi-finals, with the winner clinching the championship.
In the semi-final, both drivers got off to a great start – Worsham hitting .050 and Massey nailing a .046 – and were nearly even at the 330-foot mark, but Worsham just barely edged Massey at the line by a margin of two feet to lock up his first career NHRA title with a 3.800 at 322.27 mph over Massey’s 3.808/322.73.
“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.”
Worsham then moved onto the final against “The Sarge”, Tony Schumacher, and again got off to a great start with a .034 light and never looked back, beating Schumacher with a 3.796/318.02.
It was the eighth win of the season for Worsham in his first return to the Top Fuel ranks since 1995 where he split the previous four years running both Top Fuel and Funny Car, scoring only one runner-up finish. He then competed in Funny Car only from 1996 to 2010, racking up 23 victories and finishing a career-high second in points in 2004 behind John Force.
Since joining Al-Anabi Racing in 2011, Worsham has tallied an impressive eight wins – tops among the Top Fuel division – 11 final round appearances and seven no. 1 qualifiers en route to giving Al-Anabi Racing their second straight Top Fuel championship and the 10th for team manager, Alan Johnson.
In the final race of the 2010 season, Hagan led Force by 38 points and in control of his own destiny when he lost in the opening round to Bob Tasca III. Eliminated from the event, Hagan could only watch as Force completed the most improbable comeback in NHRA history to win his 15th Funny Car title by 42 points over Hagan.
Coming into this year’s finale with a one-point lead over his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman and a 26-point cushion on Cruz Pedregon, Hagan was determined not to let history repeat itself and made a huge stride by capturing the no. 1 qualifier spot and seven critical bonus points.
Hagan started the day eliminating Jon Capps – knocking his bother Ron out of Championship contention in the process – and then took down Beckman to move onto a semi-final matchup with Predegon for the title.
In the semi, Hagan was first off the line with a .029 and led the entire distance, going 4.096 at 309.34 mph to Pedregon’s 4.113/311.77 to win by a car-length and claim his first career NHRA championship.
Hagan then went on to defeat Robert Hight in the final, turning in the third-quickest pass in Funny Car history, going 4.009 at 317.79 mph over Hight, who went 4.031 at 318.92 mph in a losing effort.
It was just Hagan’s second win of the season fifth of his career, which began just three years ago.
“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.”
The Pro Stock Motorcycle title chase was not as climatic, with Krawiec enjoying a 69-point cushion over Hector Arana, Jr. and only needing to advance to the semi-final round to clinch the title.
Krawiec beat out Karen Stoffer and then got past defending Pro Stock Motorcycle champion LE Tonglet to advance to the semis and clinch his first title 2008.
Krawiec hoped to join Worsham and Hagan as champions and event winners, taking down Hector Arana, Jr. in the semi to face top qualifier Andrew Hines in the final.
In the final, Krawiec fouled-out by .009 seconds, while Hines ran 6.814 at 196.39 mph to score his second victory of the season and 25th of his career.
“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.”
Although Jason Line already locked up the Pro Stock championship last week, he hoped to end the season in victory lane but ended up losing to the legend Kurt Johnson in the semi-final, moving Johnson into a final-round showdown with Greg Stansfield, who bested Larry Morgan Rodger Brogdon and Allen Johnson to reach his fourth final-round of the season.
In the final, Johnson’s luck ran out as he shut the car down right at the start, handing Stansfield his first victory of the season with a pass of 6.597 at 209.59 mph.
“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. 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.”
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