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NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series

Race Reports, Recaps and Points for Professional classes
Race Recap: Courtesy of NHRA
Worsham, Hines = Champs; Langdon, Johnson, Kraweic win Pomona

POMONA, Calif. – Del Worsham claimed his second NHRA world championship title and first in Funny Car, and then raced to the event victory Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals near Los Angeles.

Southern California native Worsham defeated Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoff rival Jack Beckman in the semifinals to secure the Funny Car season title at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona and become just the third driver in NHRA history, joining Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi, to win world championships in both nitro categories. Worsham won the 2011 Top Fuel world championship.

Worsham managed to win the title while Don Schumacher Racing drivers Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps all kept lowering the national elapsed time record throughout the day. Beckman finally claimed the 20-point bonus for the record at 3.884 seconds, but it wasn’t enough.

“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 Schumacher 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, but the circumstances here were much greater.”

Worsham also powered his DHL Toyota Camry past Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight in earlier rounds before defeating Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round to claim his fourth victory of the season and 38th of his career, including 30 in Funny Car.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Hines claimed his second consecutive and fifth overall world championship title in Pro Stock Motorcycle when his closest rival, Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie, lost in the second round. Hines, who pocketed $75,000 for the title, is the youngest driver in NHRA history to win five world championships and continues the amazing domination by the Vance & Hines team in the two-wheel category.

“My outstanding Harley-Davidson team did a great job of keeping me focused and keeping the pressure off of me,” said Hines, who won four races during the season atop his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, including three in the Countdown playoffs. “It was awesome that my wife [Tanya] got to give me a kiss right before I ran, and thanks to my teammate for helping to get the job done. I guess we put the fear of Harley into them. Five championships is pretty awesome.”

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) joined Worsham in the winner’s circle at the final playoff race of the NHRA Mello Yello Series Countdown to the Championship.

Langdon earned his second Top Fuel win of the season, sweeping both Wally trophies at this track for the second time in his career. Langdon, who won the season-opening Winternationals in the cockpit of an Alan Johnson Racing dragster, defeated Antron Brown in the final round in a Don Schumacher Racing machine. Langdon powered his Red Fuel dragster to a 3.715 at 332.43 to finish in front of the recently crowned world champion, who posted a 3.732 at 321.73 in his Matco Tools dragster.

“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, by holding off Vincent Nobile in the final round. Johnson used a quicker reaction time and drove his Magneti Marelli/Mopar Dodge Dart to a 6.541 at 210.18 to take the win over Nobile, who clocked a quicker, but losing effort of 6.540 at 211.93 in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro.

“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.”

Johnson says he is happy to win the last Pro Stock race featuring carbureted engines. He added that his plans are currently 50-50 regarding whether he will compete in 2016 when NHRA introduces the new-look Pro Stock class with electronic fuel injection, among other significant class changes.

“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 closed the Pro Stock Motorcycle season with a victory and earned a second place points finish when he defeated two-time champ Matt Smith in the final round. Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.846 at 192.58 to finish in front of Smith’s Victory Gunner, which trailed with a 6.888 at 194.21. It was Krawiec’s fourth victory of the season, fourth at Pomona and 31st of his career.

“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 for Harley-Davidson.”

The 23-race 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opens Feb. 11-14 with the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Event Recap: Courtesy of NHRA
Brown, Worsham, Enders & Hines > Champions Honored in Hollywood

Four multi-time world champions, Antron Brown, Del Worsham, Erica Enders and Andrew Hines, were the headliners who were crowned Monday evening during the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series awards ceremony at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.

The four drivers were honored for their season-long achievements and presented with checks and trophies for winning 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship titles during the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs.

Brown, 39, earned his second Top Fuel world championship, which included a $500,000 bonus from NHRA and Mello Yello. He secured the crown at the penultimate race in Las Vegas on Halloween weekend. The driver of the Matco Tools dragster raced to a category-best seven season victories and seven No. 1 qualifying positions, including three playoff wins in the Countdown to the Championship. He is the only African-American driver to win a major U.S. auto racing season championship.

Southern California racer Del Worsham claimed a hard-fought Funny Car world championship title, the first in the category for the 25-year veteran driver. He won the world championship title in dramatic fashion by defeating rival and playoff top seed Jack Beckman in a winner-take-all head-to-head semifinal meeting at the final race of the season. Worsham, 45, raced to four victories during the season, all coming during the Countdown playoffs at the controls of his DHL Toyota Camry for Kalitta Motorsports. The NHRA Top Fuel world champ in 2011, Worsham joins an exclusive fraternity with Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi as drivers who have won NHRA series crowns in both nitro categories. He also was presented a check for $500,000 from NHRA and Mello Yello for the championship.

Houston native Enders, 32, had a record-setting season in her red Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro, earning nine victories in 11 final round appearances and six No. 1 qualifying positions to claim her second consecutive NHRA Pro Stock world championship title. She claimed the series crown en route to a Countdown playoff victory at Las Vegas. She earned $250,000 for the title from NHRA and Mello Yello.

Hines, 32, earned his fifth world-championship title in Pro Stock Motorcycle by racing to four victories in five final rounds on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, including three victories during the Countdown playoffs. The Indianapolis rider, who is the youngest in NHRA history to win five series titles, was awarded $75,000 from NHRA and Mello Yello for championship.

Pro Stock driver Drew Skillman was named the winner of the $20,000 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the top NHRA rookie performer of the year. Skillman advanced to his first final round in his pro debut at the season-opening NHRA Winternationals at Pomona. He then posted a runner-up finish at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and finally earned his first victory at the AAA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. Skillman was the only rookie driver to qualify for the Countdown playoffs and he finished fifth in the Pro Stock points standings. The driver of the Ray Skillman Chevrolet Chevy Camaro received the award based on votes from a panel of the nation’s top motorsports journalists. The other candidates in the rookie class were John Bojec (Funny Car), Bob Butner (Pro Stock), Jenna Haddock (Top Fuel), John Hale (Funny Car), Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock) and Alex Prusiensky (Pro Stock).

For the 21st time overall and second consecutive season, Chevrolet was named the NHRA Manufacturers Cup winner. Funny Car racers John Force, Robert Hight, and Courtney Force, along with Pro Stock racers Enders, Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Skillman, Shane Gray, Vincent Nobile and Larry Morgan, and sportsman racers Bruno Massel, Jeff Strickland, and Dan Fletcher led the winning effort for Chevrolet.

Terry Chandler, who provides funding for the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger Funny Car driven by Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge driven by Jack Beckman for Don Schumacher Racing, was presented the Blaine Johnson Award for her outstanding commitment and dedication to the sport of NHRA Drag Racing.

Drivers in nine categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also were recognized as 2015 world champions: Joey Severance (Top Alcohol Dragster), Jonnie Lindberg (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Craig Bourgeois (Competition Eliminator), Justin Lamb (Super Stock), Kevin Helms (Stock Eliminator), Kevin Brannon (Super Comp), Jacob Elrod (Super Gas), Jeffrey Barker (Top Sportsman) and Marco Abruzzi (Top Dragster).

The 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series awards ceremony will be available in its entirety to fans worldwide on the Internet on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at NHRA.com and the NHRA channel on YouTube.

Sky ride before John Force burn out.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series

Angelle Sampey and John Force on two very different bikes.

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