Del Worsham upsets John Force to highlight finals of NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas

3 Comments

John Force could have closed the NHRA Funny Car points gap Matt Hagan has over him to just one point Sunday in the finals of the Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.

Unfortunately, Del Worsham got in Force’s way, winning their final round battle at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In winning his first Funny Car race since 2009, Worsham (4.064 seconds at 318.39 mph), deprived Force of really tightening the gap on Hagan.

“I think we’ve been to probably four finals and this is the first time we’ve won with Kalitta Motorsports,” Worsham said in an NHRA media release.

Worsham was the 2011 Top Fuel champion.

“We’ve almost had lane choice and low elapsed time in all those finals and we didn’t bring out a big enough stick,” he said. “Today, the big bat was out.”

But all was not lost for Force, a record 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion. He was 41 points behind Hagan coming into Sunday’s four rounds of eliminations. Force left after the final round just 21 points behind Hagan, who won the 2011 Funny Car championship.

One race remains on the schedule, the season-ending World Finals at Pomona, California, Nov. 13-16.

In Top Fuel, seven-time Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher failed to clinch his eighth title when he was upset by Billy Torrence in the first round Sunday.

That opened the door for Spencer Massey (3.756 seconds at 330.88 mph) to earn his third win of the season and 17th of his career, defeating J.R. Todd in the final round.

Massey moves into second place in the standings, but he’s a nearly insurmountable 109 points behind Schumacher heading to Pomona in two weeks.

“The car started off running extremely well,” Massey said.  “We started running a new chassis this weekend and we wanted to see where it would lead us. It showed a lot of promise. For [crew chiefs] Phil Schuler and Todd Okahara and my entire team, we’ve been working so hard all season long to finally make good solid runs and be consistent on race day.”

In Pro Stock, Erica Enders-Stevens (6.587 seconds at 209.36 mph) earned her fifth win of the season and 11th of her career, defeating reigning champ Jeg Coughlin.

But more importantly, Enders-Stevens regained the Pro Stock points lead from Jason Line with the one race remaining. Enders-Stevens leads Line by a slim 17-point margin heading into Pomona. Line came into Sunday’s race with a 35-point lead on Enders-Stevens, who defeated him in Sunday’s semifinals.

Enders-Stevens is seeking to become the first female NHRA champion in Pro Stock history.

“I wanted to come in with a positive attitude,” she said. “When I walked in the gate on Thursday afternoon I had a good feeling.

“I decided I was going to give it to God, keep the faith, do my best and let him do the rest. That quick mental change made everything run so much smoother today.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines (6.965 seconds at 191.02 mph) took his sixth win and 38th of his career, parlaying a 25-point lead over teammate Eddie Krawiec before Sunday’s race into a massive 92-point edge after the win.

Hines already has his championship strategy in place for the season-ending race.

“I don’t want to play defense,” Hines said. “I’m going to go on the offense. I don’t want to give up any bonus points during qualifying. I want to keep it over 80 points so we can roll into Sunday with the championship basically mathematically locked up.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

FINAL FINISHING ORDER

TOP FUEL: 1.  Spencer Massey; 2.  J.R. Todd; 3.  Billy Torrence; 4.  Leah Pritchett; 5.  Khalid alBalooshi; 6.  Richie Crampton; 7.  Shawn Langdon; 8.  Brittany Force; 9.  Tony Schumacher; 10.  Antron Brown; 11.  T.J. Zizzo; 12.  Larry Dixon; 13.  Doug Kalitta; 14.  Bob Vandergriff; 15.  Steve Torrence; 16.  Terry McMillen.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Del Worsham; 2.  John Force; 3.  Matt Hagan; 4.  Robert Hight; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 6.  Ron Capps; 7.  Tim Wilkerson; 8.  Paul Lee; 9.  Alexis DeJoria; 10.  Courtney Force; 11.  Jack Beckman; 12.  Jon Capps; 13.  Bob Tasca III; 14.  Tony Pedregon; 15.  Terry Haddock; 16.  Jeff Arend.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 2.  Jeg Coughlin; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Shane Gray; 5.  Greg Anderson; 6. Dave Connolly; 7.  Allen Johnson; 8.  Rodger Brogdon; 9.  Chris McGaha; 10.  Matt Hartford; 11.  V. Gaines; 12.  Aaron Stanfield; 13.  Jonathan Gray; 14.  Vincent Nobile; 15.  Larry Morgan; 16.  Jeff Isbell.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Andrew Hines; 2.  Matt Smith; 3.  Jerry Savoie; 4.  Katie Sullivan; 5.  Eddie Krawiec; 6. Hector Arana; 7.  Chaz Kennedy; 8.  Michael Ray; 9.  Jim Underdahl; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck; 11. John Hall; 12.  Adam Arana; 13.  Angie Smith; 14.  Shawn Gann; 15.  Steve Johnson; 16.  Hector Arana Jr.

 

SUNDAY’S FINAL RESULTS

Top Fuel — Spencer Massey, 3.756 seconds, 330.88 mph  def. J.R. Todd, 7.375 seconds, 87.51 mph.

Funny Car — Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.064, 318.39  def. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.104, 321.42.

Pro Stock — Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.587, 209.36  def. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.596, 209.14.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.955, 191.02  def. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.971, 192.11.

Pro Modified — Rickie Smith, Chevy Camaro, 5.912, 242.63  def. Don Walsh, Camaro, DQ.

 

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Khalid alBalooshi, 3.775, 320.74 def. Larry Dixon, 3.953, 242.23; Leah Pritchett, 3.793, 320.97 def. Antron Brown, 3.800, 319.90; Richie Crampton, 3.831, 270.43 def. Bob Vandergriff, 4.193, 203.28; J.R. Todd, 3.816, 290.82 def. T.J. Zizzo, 3.811, 322.88; Spencer Massey, 4.268, 245.72 def. Terry McMillen, 5.794, 113.32; Brittany Force, 3.789, 325.69 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.121, 251.63; Billy Torrence, 3.769, 329.10 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.774, 328.38; Shawn Langdon, 3.770, 318.92 def. Steve Torrence, 4.622, 185.46; QUARTERFINALS — Pritchett, 3.846, 321.42 def. Force, 8.961, 76.09; Todd, 3.777, 321.19 def. alBalooshi, 3.781, 319.37; B. Torrence, 3.808, 324.36 def. Crampton, 3.868, 293.09; Massey, 3.769, 326.24 def. Langdon, 4.501, 223.73. SEMIFINALS — Todd, 3.781, 323.43 def. B. Torrence, 3.796, 325.45; Massey, 3.775, 325.22 def. Pritchett, 3.803, 318.77. FINAL — Massey, 3.756, 330.88 def. Todd, 7.375, 87.51.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.110, 309.63 def. Jeff Arend, Dodge Charger, 12.355, 71.81; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.145, 313.00 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 10.046, 82.35; Paul Lee, Charger, 4.118, 306.88 def. Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.148, 305.77; John Force, Mustang, 4.085, 318.54 def. Jon Capps, Chevy Impala, 4.299, 266.27; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.073, 314.24 def. Terry Haddock, Toyota Solara, 12.197, 80.07; Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.091, 315.64 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.210, 268.22; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.690, 209.26 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 8.387, 72.32; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.104, 310.70 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.088, 303.98; QUARTERFINALS — Worsham, 4.092, 315.19 def. R. Capps, 4.138, 315.71; Hight, 4.102, 313.88 def. Lee, 4.229, 264.80; J. Force, 4.069, 319.45 def. Wilkerson, 4.144, 308.00; Hagan, 4.064, 314.09 def. Johnson Jr., 4.115, 307.72; SEMIFINALS — J. Force, 4.069, 319.45 def. Hight, 4.130, 312.93; Worsham, 4.059, 315.71 def. Hagan, 4.091, 315.71; FINAL — Worsham, 4.064, 318.39 def. J. Force, 4.104, 321.42.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Rodger Brogdon, Chevy Camaro, broke def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, foul; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.641, 208.65 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.855, 198.35; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.608, 208.65 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.635, 208.01; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.609, 208.71 def. Matt Hartford, Dodge Avenger, 6.647, 209.04; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.601, 209.07 def. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.647, 207.75; Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.596, 208.91 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.670, 206.76; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.581, 209.79 def. Jeff Isbell, Camaro, 9.254, 99.91; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.592, 209.20 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 7.137, 161.88; QUARTERFINALS — Line, 6.629, 208.36 def. Connolly, 11.228, 79.50; Coughlin, 6.626, 208.14 def. Johnson, 13.414, 62.82; S. Gray, 6.611, 208.26 def. Anderson, 6.638, 208.55; Enders-Stevens, 6.583, 209.17 def. Brogdon, foul. SEMIFINALS — Coughlin, 6.605, 208.46 def. S. Gray, 6.647, 208.26; Enders-Stevens, 6.593, 209.20 def. Line, foul. FINAL — Enders-Stevens, 6.587, 209.36 def. Coughlin, 6.596, 209.14.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.932, 193.24 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, foul; Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.970, 190.70 def. Angie Smith, Buell, foul; Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.968, 191.02 def. Adam Arana, Buell, 7.015, 191.65; Michael Ray, Buell, 6.951, 193.10 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.999, 189.44; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.888, 194.02 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, foul; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.979, 192.06 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.044, 190.67; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.936, 191.65 def. John Hall, Buell, 7.003, 190.08; Matt Smith, Buell, 6.947, 192.77 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.002, 189.23; QUARTERFINALS — Sullivan, 7.017, 188.94 def. Ray, broke; M. Smith, 6.936, 192.71 def. H. Arana, 6.979, 191.84; Hines, 6.947, 191.62 def. Kennedy, 6.999, 189.04; Savoie, 6.949, 191.43 def. Krawiec, 6.965, 190.40. SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.955, 191.24 def. Savoie, 7.007, 190.54; M. Smith, 6.977, 191.43 def. Sullivan, 12.042, 32.54. FINAL — Hines, 6.955, 191.02 def. M. Smith, 6.971, 192.11.

 

UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS:

Top Fuel: 1.  Tony Schumacher, 2,501; 2.  Spencer Massey, 2,392; 3.  J.R. Todd, 2,389; 4.  Shawn Langdon, 2,367; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 2,366; 6.  Steve Torrence, 2,355; 7.  Antron Brown, 2,324; 8.  Khalid alBalooshi, 2,292; 9.  Brittany Force, 2,239; 10.  Richie Crampton, 2,238.

Funny Car: 1.  Matt Hagan, 2,510; 2.  John Force, 2,489; 3.  Courtney Force, 2,389; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,362; 5.  Robert Hight, 2,360; 6.  Del Worsham, 2,341; 7.  Ron Capps, 2,313; 8.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,300; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,259; 10.  Cruz Pedregon, 2,206.

Pro Stock: 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 2,513; 2.  Jason Line, 2,496; 3.  Dave Connolly, 2,429; 4.  Shane Gray, 2,402; 5.  (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 2,369; Allen Johnson, 2,369; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 2,328; 8.  Jonathan Gray, 2,312; 9.  V. Gaines, 2,238; 10.  Chris McGaha, 2,136.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  Andrew Hines, 2,607; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,515; 3.  Matt Smith, 2,377; 4.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,348; 5.  Steve Johnson, 2,317; 6.  Scotty Pollacheck, 2,299; 7.  Hector Arana, 2,265; 8.  John Hall, 2,253; 9.  Angie Smith, 2,190; 10.  Michael Ray, 2,134.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
0 Comments

To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

MORE: McLaren considering Kyle Busch for Indy 500

“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”