Del Worsham has ‘unfinished business’: NHRA Funny Car title

Del Worsham (Gary Nastase photo)

While he failed to leave Chicago with his fifth career win at Route 66 Raceway this weekend, Del Worsham is still in very good standing.

Worsham, who lost in the second round of Sunday’s final eliminations of the Lucas Oil Route 66 Nationals in suburban Joliet, Il., is tied for third with Jack Beckman in the NHRA Funny Car standings.

Defending Funny Car champ Matt Hagan remains No. 1, followed by Ron Capps and then the Worsham/Beckman tandem.

With five races to go to NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Worsham should be able to make the six-race event on points alone.

But winning at least one race in the next five coming up would essentially lock himself into the Countdown with a guaranteed berth.

“The season’s been great,” Worsham told’s MotorSportsTalk. “I really couldn’t ask for anything more other than maybe a win. We haven’t got a win yet.

“But if you look at every single race and qualifying and the way we race, we race hard and have qualified well and made great runs.

“Somewhere along the way, someone’s popped up with a national event record run or close to it, or we’ve had one bad run at the wrong time. But all-in-all, I’d give this season an ‘A’ thus far, aside from not having a win at this point.

“I just hope we keep on the path we’re on. I think we’re on a pretty good path here, but I’d really like to get that win.”

In addition to hopefully earning a win, Worsham also has his eyes on capturing the $100,000 first prize for the upcoming Traxxas Shootout, which will be held during the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on the Labor Day weekend.

A win before Indy would guarantee him a berth in the Shootout. But even if he remains the top scoring winless driver over the next four races, Worsham likely will still make the Shootout.

“I’d like to be part of the Traxxas Shootout that’s coming up in Indy,” Worsham said. “I’ve doubled up before and won the NHRA Showdown and U.S. Nationals at Indy (2005), so I know what it’s like to win both.

“It’d be nice to win a race for our sponsors, our team, for morale, kind of take an extra step forward. But if we don’t, either way, I think our car runs well enough. If things work out just right, our DHL Toyota Camry can race for the championship.”

It’s been an interesting road for Worsham, who won the 2011 NHRA Top Fuel championship for Al-Anabi Racing, and then promptly stepped out of his dragster to become crew chief for Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria.

That change of scenery lasted just one season before he became teammates with DeJoria at Kalitta Racing, piloting the DHL Funny Car.

“I never retired,” Worsham said. “All I did was I said I was taking some time off. I was looking at different opportunities and for a new job. But I also was tired. I had been doing this for 23, 24 years at that point.

“We had just won the championship and Alexis was coming along and she wanted a crew chief, and that was something I really thought I needed to do at that point.

“I had a new job, a new outlook, a different perspective, I was excited about it. I just needed a year off from driving. I really did. I didn’t even know if I’d ever drive again.

“I remember backing up on my final burnout in the last round at Pomona at the end of the 2011 season in the dragster against Tony Schumacher. I had already won the championship. I thought to myself, ‘You know, this could be the last time I ever look at racing from this point of view ever again, and I was good with that.

“I had a great elapsed time, won the race and then things came around and I had the chance to drive this car. It all made sense.”

Funny Cars are where Worsham made the biggest impact in his career, with 26 of his 34 total wins (the other eight are in Top Fuel) coming in the so-called “flopper” class.

If he wins a Funny Car championship, Worsham would become only the third driver in NHRA history to win championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car (others are Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi).

“I came back to driving because I had a little bit of unfinished business, in that I never won a Funny Car championship,” Worsham said. “I feel that things now are a lot more equal, maybe equal talent and money and crews, and I would love to have a shot at it.”

“Just winning a Funny Car title would be great. I’m not going to say if I don’t win it, it’s going to ruin my career or harm me in any way. I just want to come to Pomona (Calif.), let it come down to the final race of the year and have a shot at it like I did in Top Fuel. I think that would be really exciting, and that’s my goal.”

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Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor “It is great for to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”