NHRA: Worsham rolls to 3rd Countdown win, but Beckman stays close

(Photo courtesy NHRA)

ENNIS, Texas – Del Worsham was uncertain of two things after he crossed the finish line of the final round of the NHRA’s AAA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex.

Worsham quickly sought answers from his crew chief over the radio.

Yes, he had beat championship rival Jack Beckman to the line for the win.

But as he rolled down the 1,000-foot drag strip, he feared he may have crossed the center line, which would have resulted in immediate disqualification.

“I thought I was OK on the tree (starting line), I thought everything was good,” Worsham said. “We were going along and I couldn’t actually see (Beckman), but I wasn’t looking at him.

“Then all of a sudden, at about the time I was home free, it darts to the right and I just jerked the wheel to the left, shut it off and got the (parachutes) out.”

While it was close, it turns out Worsham hadn’t crossed the line.

In their first career final round matchup, Worsham defeated Beckman on a holeshot for his third win in the first four rounds of the Countdown to the Championship. Worsham crossed the line in 4.041 sec. at 272.17 mph, while Beckman finished in 4.077 sec. at a much faster 287.25 mph.

Despite Worsham’s three wins in the first four races of the six-event playoff, Beckman is making a battle of it, trailing Worsham by just 38 points with two races remaining (Las Vegas in two weeks and the season finale at Ponoma in mid-November).

“The reality of it is there aren’t a whole lot of rounds left,” Worsham said, soaking in his third win at the track where he earned his nitro fuel license 25 years ago. “You would think if a guy won three races out of four in the Countdown, he would have somewhat of a lead. I don’t think we have any lead.”

Beckman can take solace in that he leaves Dallas with new track records in elapsed time (3.909 seconds) and speed (326.32 mph), both set in the first round of eliminations.

Top Fuel

When he’s in the final round, Richie Crampton can do no wrong. The Australian outlasted Steve Torrence to claim his fifth win of the 2015 season and the seventh of his career. He’s now undefeated in seven final round appearances.

“I was actually more nervous about the first round than the final round because of that (stat),” Crampton said.

Torrence began pedaling his dragster three-quarters of the way down the racetrack, while Crampton showed signs of tire spinning just before he crossed the finish line in 3.97 seconds at 283.07 mph. Torrence’s time was 4.074 seconds at 267.32 mph.

Crampton made it to the final round despite a clutch control issue that began in the second round against Brittany Force.

“I was helping guys change the clutch control between rounds twice today,” Crampton said. “For those of you who would understand, (it) is a pretty big process. At the end of this day, I’m just beat. “

It’s Crampton’s first win since August’s Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., and his first career Countdown win.

Despite losing to Crampton in the semifinals, Antron Brown, who won the first three races of the Countdown, increased his lead in the Top Fuel standings to 132 points over teammate and defending champ Tony Schumacher, who lost in Sunday’s opening round.

Pro Stock

It took a better engine and a margin of .002 seconds for Erica Enders to claim the Pro Stock win.

Jonathan Gray got the jump on her with a reaction time of .010 sec. to Enders’ .030. But the 2014 Pro Stock champion was the first across the finish line, which she crossed in 6.467 seconds at 214.48 mph, to Gray’s 6.489 seconds, 213.60 mph run.

It was the Houston native’s first win at the Texas Motorplex, where she’s raced since she was 8-years-old in 1992. She also claimed the record for wins in a season by a female driver.

“This place definitely holds a special place in my heart,” Enders said. “I’ve wanted a cowboy hat and a brick (the trophies for winners) for a really long time and we were finally able to get it done today.”

Enders’ eighth win of the season gives her a full race lead in the point standings over Greg Anderson.

Enders’ final round reaction time was her only one Sunday that was slower than .017 seconds. Her fastest was .008 against Chris McGaha in the second round.

Track Record: Anderson had no time to enjoy his track records in E.T. (6.457 seconds) and speed (214.59 mph). The former champion was beaten in a hole-shot win by Chris McGaha in the first round.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

New isn’t always better. Jerry Savoie, driving a 2001 Suzuki TL 1000, was the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle and continued on to win the race, defeating Eddie Krawiec on his 2015 HD V-Rod.

Savoie earned his third win of 2015 in a holeshot, leaving the line after .016 seconds to Krawiec’s .040. Savoie went the distance in 6.744 seconds and 198.44 mph for his fourth career win.

“Man, that is one fast motor scooter,”the 56-year-old Louisiana alligator farm owner said. “I keep telling everybody I wish I could see it. My goal was to win one race. Just one race. For this to be happening in my life, there’s only one person that controls it and that’s God up above.”

Track Record: Savoie put down the record for both E.T. and speed in two different rounds. He went 6.74 seconds in the final round and his speed of 198.99 came one round earlier against Karren Stofer.


TOP FUEL: 1. Richie Crampton; 2.  Steve Torrence; 3.  Clay Millican; 4.  Antron Brown; 5.  Brittany Force; 6.  Shawn Langdon; 7.  Billy Torrence; 8.  Dave Connolly; 9.  Larry Dixon; 10.  Doug Kalitta; 11. J.R. Todd; 12.  Jenna Haddock; 13.  Tony Schumacher; 14.  Kebin Kinsley; 15.  Terry McMillen; 16. Troy Buff.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Del Worsham; 2.  Jack Beckman; 3.  Ron Capps; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5.  Robert Hight; 6.  Matt Hagan; 7.  Alexis DeJoria; 8.  John Force; 9.  Cruz Pedregon; 10.  Cory Lee; 11.  Tim Wilkerson; 12.  Courtney Force; 13.  John Hale; 14.  Blake Alexander; 15.  Tony Pedregon; 16.  Chad Head.

PRO STOCK: 1. Erica Enders; 2.  Jonathan Gray; 3.  Drew Skillman; 4.  Allen Johnson; 5.  Jason Line; 6. Larry Morgan; 7.  Chris McGaha; 8.  Bo Butner; 9.  Greg Anderson; 10.  Shane Gray; 11.  V. Gaines; 12.  Alex Laughlin; 13.  Deric Kramer; 14.  Alan Prusiensky; 15.  Vincent Nobile; 16.  John Gaydosh Jr.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Jerry Savoie; 2.  Eddie Krawiec; 3.  Karen Stoffer; 4.  Chip Ellis; 5.  Matt Smith; 6.  Steve Johnson; 7.  Hector Arana; 8.  Hector Arana Jr; 9.  Scotty Pollacheck; 10.  Michael Ray; 11.  Jim Underdahl; 12.  LE Tonglet; 13.  Shawn Gann; 14.  Angie Smith; 15.  Andrew Hines; 16.  Mike Berry.


Top Fuel — Richie Crampton, 3.972 seconds, 283.07 mph  def. Steve Torrence, 4.074 seconds, 267.32 mph.

Funny Car — Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.041, 272.17  def. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.077, 286.25.

Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.467, 214.48  def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.489, 213.60.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.744, 198.44  def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.915, 196.30.



ROUND ONE — Richie Crampton, 3.705, 328.94 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.761, 326.56; Antron Brown, 3.716, 324.51 def. J.R. Todd, 3.777, 326.56; Dave Connolly, 3.789, 325.61 def. Jenna Haddock, 4.109, 276.58; Billy Torrence, 3.732, 326.71 def. Kebin Kinsley, 4.193, 201.88; Brittany Force, 3.756, 327.90 def. Terry McMillen, 5.456, 130.37; Shawn Langdon, 3.733, 328.54 def. Troy Buff, 14.710, 33.74; Steve Torrence, 3.735, 326.24 def. Larry Dixon, 3.759, 323.81; Clay Millican, 3.748, 321.35 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.114, 227.92; QUARTERFINALS — Millican, 3.772, 320.51 def. Connolly, 3.796, 322.11; Brown, 3.732, 324.20 def. B. Torrence, 3.789, 300.93; Crampton, 4.005, 294.95 def. Force, foul; S. Torrence, 3.735, 326.95 def. Langdon, 3.783, 327.82; SEMIFINALS — S. Torrence, 3.781, 324.12 def. Millican, 4.810, 153.32; Crampton, 3.814, 321.19 def. Brown, 4.919, 151.34; FINAL — Crampton, 3.972, 283.07 def. S. Torrence, 4.074, 267.32.


ROUND ONE — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.940, 322.73 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.965, 319.37; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.971, 321.19 def. Cory Lee, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 4.273, 239.06; Del Worsham, Camry, 3.925, 324.67 def. John Hale, Charger, 6.812, 95.90; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.909, 326.32 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, DQ; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.381, 246.08 def. Blake Alexander, Charger, foul; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.947, 322.27 def. Chad Head, Camry, DQ; John Force, Camaro, 3.998, 324.83 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.874, 160.98; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.007, 320.20 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.751, 167.70; QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 3.975, 321.65 def. Hagan, 3.993, 321.73; Capps, 3.957, 322.73 def. Hight, 3.974, 321.50; Beckman, 4.281, 261.83 def. J. Force, 5.570, 99.68; Worsham, 3.970, 321.65 def. DeJoria, 4.737, 169.02; SEMIFINALS — Beckman, 3.989, 312.93 def. Johnson Jr., 4.294, 224.21; Worsham, 3.975, 320.66 def. Capps, 3.999, 319.29; FINAL — Worsham, 4.041, 272.17 def. Beckman, 4.077, 286.25.


ROUND ONE — Larry Morgan, Chevy Camaro, 6.484, 213.60 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, foul; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.493, 212.96 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 7.902, 122.09; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.477, 213.98 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.522, 212.83; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.504, 213.20 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.457, 214.59; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.467, 214.25 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.505, 212.59; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.467, 214.18 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.701, 207.11; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.472, 214.14 def. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.524, 211.20; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.475, 213.60 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 9.466, 96.97; QUARTERFINALS — J. Gray, 6.524, 212.33 def. Butner, 6.519, 213.43; Skillman, 6.471, 214.31 def. Morgan, foul; Johnson, 6.530, 212.26 def. Line, 6.482, 214.14; Enders, 6.461, 214.45 def. McGaha, 6.512, 213.03; SEMIFINALS — J. Gray, 6.514, 213.74 def. Johnson, 6.524, 212.59; Enders, 6.472, 214.21 def. Skillman, 6.485, 213.37; FINAL — Enders, 6.467, 214.48 def. J. Gray, 6.489, 213.60.


ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.785, 197.94 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.852, 195.62; Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.821, 196.39 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.892, 192.82; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.827, 196.79 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.896, 195.73; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.919, 196.70 def. Mike Berry, Buell, broke; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.904, 195.34 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.378, 138.76; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.827, 196.13 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.925, 186.77; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.859, 196.39 def. Angie Smith, 7.010, 185.74; Matt Smith, 6.817, 194.97 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.899, 193.63; QUARTERFINALS — Savoie, 6.779, 198.20 def. M. Smith, 6.886, 193.82; Ellis, 6.840, 196.33 def. Arana, 6.895, 195.45; Stoffer, 6.820, 196.82 def. Johnson, 6.888, 194.55; Krawiec, 6.830, 194.46 def. Arana Jr, foul; SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.753, 198.99 def. Stoffer, 6.814, 196.42; Krawiec, 6.820, 194.94 def. Ellis, 6.819, 196.42; FINAL — Savoie, 6.744, 198.44 def. Krawiec, 6.915, 196.30.


Top Fuel: 1. Antron Brown, 2,505; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 2,373; 3.  Richie Crampton, 2,302; 4.  Brittany Force, 2,298; 5.  Larry Dixon, 2,268; 6.  Steve Torrence, 2,254; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 2,236; 8.  Dave Connolly, 2,219; 9.  J.R. Todd, 2,213; 10.  Doug Kalitta, 2,205.

Funny Car: 1. Del Worsham, 2,488; 2.  Jack Beckman, 2,450; 3.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,341; 4.  Ron Capps, 2,330; 5.  Matt Hagan, 2,329; 6.  John Force, 2,264; 7.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,206; 8.  Cruz Pedregon, 2,201; 9.  Robert Hight, 2,196; 10.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,195.

Pro Stock: 1. Erica Enders, 2,501; 2.  Greg Anderson, 2,347; 3.  Chris McGaha, 2,335; 4.  Allen Johnson, 2,299; 5.  Drew Skillman, 2,298; 6.  Larry Morgan, 2,292; 7.  Jason Line, 2,240; 8.  (tie) Jonathan Gray, 2,220; Vincent Nobile, 2,220; 10.  Shane Gray, 2,183.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,412; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,391; 3.  Jerry Savoie, 2,381; 4.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,331; 5.  Chip Ellis, 2,305; 6.  Matt Smith, 2,297; 7.  Karen Stoffer, 2,280; 8.  Hector Arana, 2,219; 9.  Jim Underdahl, 2,158; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck, 2,107.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.