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

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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.”

 

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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.

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Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”