NHRA: Worsham (Funny Car), Hines (Pro Stock Bike) earn 2015 titles

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In Sunday’s season-ending Auto Club Finals in Pomona, California, Del Worsham (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) joined previously-crowned Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) as 2015 champions.

Worsham earned his second career NHRA championship, but his first in Funny Car, making him only the third driver in sanctioning body history to earn championships in both nitro classes, Top Fuel and Funny Car.

Worsham won the Top Fuel crown in 2011. The other two drivers to have accomplished the rare feat in the past were Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi.

Worsham clinched the championship after defeating closest challenger Jack Beckman in the semifinals. Worsham then went on to win the race in Funny Car for an encore.

“When I put this trophy next to my other one at home it will be real,” said Worsham, who earned $500,000 from NHRA and Mello Yello for the championship. “Every time I looked up there was a (Don Schumacher Racing) car sitting there in my face.

“I was nervous about it. I was counting points. I am not going to tell you it was like any other race, because it wasn’t. I know the points are the same as the first round at Charlotte (the opening race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship), but the circumstances here were much greater.”

Some consolation for Beckman was that he set the national Funny Car elapsed time record (3.884 seconds).

“The cars were running so fast here this weekend that the record just became part of the equation,” Worsham said. “(Beckman) was making up points before we even started racing by setting the record. Today it came down to being head to head and I am grateful for the way it worked out.”

Hines, meanwhile, earned his second straight and fifth career Pro Stock Motorcycle championship. Hines clinched the title after his closest challenger, Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie, lost in the second round of Sunday’s eliminations.

Hines won $75,000 and becomes the youngest driver in NHRA history to win five championships.

“My outstanding Harley-Davidson team did a great job of keeping me focused and keeping the pressure off of me,” Hines said. “I guess we put the fear of Harley into them. Five championships is pretty awesome.”

Brown and Enders clinched their respective championships in the penultimate race two weeks ago at Las Vegas.

In addition to Worsham winning the Funny Car final round, other race winners were Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Langdon won the season-opening race at Pomona back in February and capped off a difficult season (lost primary sponsorship just before the 24-race schedule kicked off) with a win Sunday.

“I love this track,” said Langdon, the 2013 world champ who now has 11 career victories. “It has always had a special place in my heart.

“I grew up right around the corner (Mira Loma, Calif.). I was always out here watching my heroes race. I have so many great memories out at this track. Luckily I’ve had a good career here. It makes it sweet to share these special memories with your family and friends.”

In Pro Stock, Johnson claimed his second win of the season and 26th of his career.

“We had struggled during the entire Countdown, never winning more than two rounds a race and losing twice in the first round,” Johnson said. “We also struggled during qualifying and in eliminations. But right before the final, we discovered that a torsion bar was bent. We fixed that, and the car went straight down the track.”

Of note, Sunday’s race marks the final Pro Stock race that will feature carbureted engines. Next season, Pro Stock motors will include electronic fuel injection, as well as other significant changes including the elimination of hood scoops.

“This was a very special win because it will be remembered as the end of an era,” said Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock world champ. “To do this today the way we did it by digging down deep and getting it done was very special.”

Krawiec, meanwhile, earned his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle win of the year.

“I’ve been to eight finals in a row here in Pomona, so this track has treated me well,” Krawiec said. “It is also a big deal for us to get the 75th win (in NHRA PSM) for Harley-Davidson.”

That puts a wrap on the 24-race 2015 season. The 2016 season (which has been reduced to 23 races) opens Feb. 12 right back at the same location as this past weekend’s finals, AAA Raceway in Pomona.

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

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

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

PRO STOCK: 1.  Allen Johnson; 2.  Vincent Nobile; 3.  Greg Anderson; 4.  Erica Enders; 5.  Chris McGaha; 6.  Drew Skillman; 7.  Larry Morgan; 8.  Shane Gray; 9.  Jason Line; 10.  Bo Butner; 11.  Alex Laughlin; 12.  Kenny Delco; 13.  Matt Hartford; 14.  Richie Stevens; 15.  Jonathan Gray; 16.  V. Gaines.

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

FINAL RESULTS:

Top Fuel: Shawn Langdon, 3.715 seconds, 332.43 mph  def. Antron Brown, 3.732 seconds, 321.73 mph.

Funny Car: Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.900, 328.14  def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.023, 305.42.

Pro Stock: Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.541, 210.18  def. Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.540, 211.93.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.846, 192.58  def. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.888, 194.21.

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Richie Crampton, 3.732, 317.49 def. Brittany Force, 3.759, 324.44; Shawn Langdon, 3.828, 318.24 def. Larry Dixon, 3.821, 316.82; Clay Millican, 3.871, 318.92 def. Morgan Lucas, 8.172, 90.46; Antron Brown, 3.725, 323.58 def. Cory McClenathan, 5.391, 128.81; Billy Torrence, 3.745, 328.46 def. Terry McMillen, 3.842, 316.08; J.R. Todd, 3.778, 329.91 def. Troy Buff, 3.845, 311.92; Doug Kalitta, 3.783, 274.33 def. Tony Schumacher, 5.732, 118.11; Steve Torrence, 3.720, 329.42 def. Dave Connolly, 4.018, 221.13;

QUARTERFINALS — Langdon, 3.749, 325.85 def. Millican, 8.515, 80.79; Kalitta, 3.747, 323.66 def. B. Torrence, 7.079, 83.34; Crampton, 3.718, 320.20 def. Todd, 3.739, 328.22; Brown, 3.728, 326.40 def. S. Torrence, foul;

SEMIFINALS — Langdon, 3.763, 327.19 def. Kalitta, 3.781, 314.31; Brown, 3.700, 323.58 def. Crampton, 10.354, 81.71;

FINAL — Langdon, 3.715, 332.43 def. Brown, 3.732, 321.73.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 5.744, 220.94 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 5.787, 270.59; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.902, 331.45 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.052, 316.38; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.944, 321.50 def. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.368, 255.97; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.897, 328.38 def. Chad Head, Toyota Camry, 4.115, 248.66; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.039, 300.93 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.432, 227.61; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.010, 310.84 def. Gary Densham, Charger, 4.238, 228.11; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 6.604 def. John Force, Camaro, DQ, 113.66; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.978, 323.66 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.986, 325.14;

QUARTERFINALS — Capps, 3.885, 326.87 def. DeJoria, 3.955, 325.14; Beckman, 3.884, 326.16 def. C. Pedregon, 8.101, 84.25; Johnson Jr., 3.926, 321.58 def. Hagan, 7.451, 86.63; Worsham, 3.896, 328.30 def. Hight, 5.255, 150.85;

SEMIFINALS — Johnson Jr., 3.891, 326.08 def. Capps, 4.052, 323.50; Worsham, 3.928, 327.35 def. Beckman, 4.088, 324.83;

FINAL — Worsham, 3.900, 328.14 def. Johnson Jr., 4.023, 305.42.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.527, 211.89 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.537, 211.89; Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.561, 211.43 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.550, 212.26; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.571, 209.23 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, foul; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.556, 211.06 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.556, 211.26; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.543, 211.79 def. Richie Stevens, Dart, foul; Shane Gray, Camaro, 8.316, 116.78 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, foul; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.536, 211.96 def. Matt Hartford, Pontiac GXP, 6.594, 210.01; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.526, 212.56 def. V. Gaines, Dart, broke;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 6.548, 209.82 def. S. Gray, 6.551, 211.76; Nobile, 6.533, 212.13 def. Skillman, 6.527, 212.23; Anderson, 6.515, 212.53 def. McGaha, 6.517, 211.99; Enders, 6.520, 212.43 def. Morgan, 6.548, 212.43;

SEMIFINALS — Johnson, 6.572, 209.17 def. Enders, 6.542, 211.56; Nobile, 8.523, 98.09 def. Anderson, foul;

FINAL — Johnson, 6.541, 210.18 def. Nobile, 6.540, 211.93.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.845, 195.90 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.107, 188.31; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.903, 193.18 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.703, 133.43; Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.974, 191.00 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.023, 187.52; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.886, 191.87 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.972, 190.48; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.915, 190.75 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.988, 189.63; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.905, 191.62 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 8.251, 112.78; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.914, 194.91 def. Angie Smith, 7.018, 188.33; Matt Smith, 6.884, 194.52 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.957, 193.10;

QUARTERFINALS — Krawiec, 6.955, 184.57 def. Savoie, no time; Hines, 6.879, 190.27 def. Arana Jr, 6.898, 194.35; Tonglet, 6.871, 194.16 def. Stoffer, foul; M. Smith, 6.870, 194.32 def. Ellis, 6.928, 192.06;

SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.882, 192.38 def. Hines, 6.917, 184.80; M. Smith, 6.896, 194.72 def. Tonglet, 6.892, 190.16;

FINAL — Krawiec, 6.846, 192.58 def. M. Smith, 6.888, 194.21.

SEASON-ENDING POINT STANDINGS:

Top Fuel: 1.  Antron Brown, 2,692; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 2,461; 3.  Richie Crampton, 2,430; 4.  Larry Dixon, 2,412; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 2,388; 6.  Shawn Langdon, 2,387; 7.  Brittany Force, 2,363; 8.  Steve Torrence, 2,342; 9.  J.R. Todd, 2,307; 10.  Dave Connolly, 2,303.

Funny Car: 1.  Del Worsham, 2,664; 2.  Jack Beckman, 2,608; 3.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,548; 4.  Ron Capps, 2,490; 5.  Matt Hagan, 2,418; 6.  Robert Hight, 2,370; 7.  John Force, 2,332; 8.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,313; 9.  Cruz Pedregon, 2,286; 10.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,259.

Pro Stock: 1.  Erica Enders, 2,712; 2.  Greg Anderson, 2,492; 3.  Allen Johnson, 2,443; 4.  Chris McGaha, 2,442; 5.  Drew Skillman, 2,433; 6.  Vincent Nobile, 2,389; 7.  Larry Morgan, 2,376; 8.  Jason Line, 2,331; 9.  Shane Gray, 2,299; 10.  Jonathan Gray, 2,286.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,608; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,565; 3.  Jerry Savoie, 2,550; 4.  Matt Smith, 2,428; 5.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,419; 6.  Chip Ellis, 2,400; 7.  Karen Stoffer, 2,376; 8.  Hector Arana, 2,323; 9.  Jim Underdahl, 2,220; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck, 2,192.

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James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.