Del Worsham and family riding high after Pomona success

Del Worsham's Lucas Oil Toyota Camry made it through the first round in its debut at Pomona. (Photo: Auto Imagery Inc.)
photo by Auto Imagery, Inc./© autoimagery.com

Del Worsham’s done it all since racing for his family’s Funny Car team from 2001-2004.

However, despite winning the Top Fuel and Funny Car championships since his departure, there is one thing that none of the other teams could provide him: The joy of working with his father.

“I just figured that now was the right time to do it,” explained the 47-year-old Worsham. “If I waited much longer, I may get to the point where I don’t want to drive anymore or that my dad’s going to get too old and not be able to do it. I feel good about the move – and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback in the pits. A lot of teams and people have reached out to us offering their support.”

Indeed, upon learning of Worsham’s dramatic switch from Kalitta Motorsports to Worsham Racing over the offseason, Toyota and Lucas Oil were willing to lend a hand.

“When we started putting together the team, I was on the phone non-stop to potential sponsors, just like I was in 1996,” explains Worsham. “The only difference is that now they actually take my calls. Once we landed deals with Toyota and then Lucas Oil, I knew we were going to make it.”

Lucas Oil’s partnership with Worsham currently stands at six races. Worsham’s team is still looking for funding in order to make it through the Countdown. While life may not be as glamorous for Worsham right now, the results so far have been worth it.

“I went to flying on a private jet and eating sushi and now I’m back to driving the truck,” explained Worsham, who began driving the team’s truck himself to the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix on Wednesday. “I can already feel that this team wants to be together, and they all want to work together, and our sponsor, Lucas Oil, wants to work with us. So I feel like the entire team is just working really well together. If I base the season off of what happened at this first race, and we can keep improving, I would say that this is gonna be a great season.”

At the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Worsham defeated Robert Hight in the first round with a pass of 4.008 seconds at 313.15 mph.

“I knew that if both cars performed to their ability, at this point we probably couldn’t outrun Robert Hight, so it was just a good clean run down the track,” explained Worsham. “When I saw his car start smoking the tires I was definitely excited for my dad and the entire team.”

Worsham was eliminated after rattling the tires against defending NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps in round 2. Nevertheless, he was pleased with what he’d experienced, and gives his team’s performance ‘a good solid ‘B.”

“Just getting the car together and making it there and getting back it on the track with my dad and our team and our new sponsors felt pretty good,” said Worsham. “Then we qualified which was really our goal and to go out and win a round was definitely a bonus. For the Lucas Oil Toyota to go out and win a round in our first race at the very first race is pretty good. I graded us out with a good solid ‘B’. I’m definitely looking forward to going to Phoenix.”

Worsham sits tied for sixth in the points standings heading into Phoenix. While his father’s car ran faster than it had ever gone before during qualifying in Pomona, the team is still looking for more.

“My goal for this race is definitely just to pick up where we left off and try to improve,” said Worsham. “Improve our qualifying position, and try to go further than we did in Pomona. I would love to try and get into a final round.

“We spent the time between Phoenix and Pomona mounting a new Toyota body to our Lucas Oil Funny Car. We’re just getting geared up. We’re a new team, so we’re still getting parts in. We’ll be getting delivery of our first 2018 Toyota Camry between that time, so we’ll be spending time getting ready for Gainesville with that new Funny Car body.”

This weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals marks the second round of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Coverage of final eliminations begins at 6 p.m. ET Sunday on FS1.