ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. --
The veteran driver, who started out in the early 1990s at the controls of his family-owned Funny Car, says there are similarities to his current position driving Connie Kalitta's DHL Toyota Camry.
And when he returns to historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the scene of his second career victory in a breakout season as a 21-year-old that culminated with his being named NHRA's Rookie of the Year for 1991, many memories come rushing back to Worsham.
"We raced hard and money was very tight so everything we did came at a cost," said the 43-year-old Worsham. "We were also a family racing towards a goal of getting sponsored, so we could race for the rest of our careers."
After spending last season serving as crew chief for Alexis DeJoria's Tequila Patron Funny Car and winning the 2011 NHRA Top Fuel world championship title for Al-Anabi Racing, Worsham says it really feels like a homecoming of sorts as he gets settled in as a driver for Kalitta Motorsports.
"Racing with Connie Kalitta, while we are sponsored, is like racing with a big family and kind of reminds me of racing with my dad (Chuck Worsham) in the early days," Worsham said with a smile. "Nobody is off limits from a good butt chewing."
In Worsham's last season in the cockpit he posted a runner-up finish at Raceway Park. He won the Top Fuel world championship that season, winning eight times in 10 final rounds.
"Racing Top Fuel for Sheikh Khalid and driving for Alan Johnson was a special season," Worsham said. "Even though we didn't win Englishtown, we did come out with a runner-up finish and we were No. 1 qualifier. Yes, I would have loved to add Englishtown to our 2011 win total, but things turned out great anyway."
So far this season, Worsham has posted one runner-up finish, at Gainesville. He's looking to improve on that effort, which currently has him sitting in ninth in the points standings.
"The transition back to Funny Car, actually just back to driving, has been a little up and down," he said. "The competition nowadays is so great that any slip ups are exposed greatly. Even with all the experience of over 20 years of racing Funny Cars, sometimes I still feel like a bit of a rookie after taking a couple years off from the class. The good news is we have already recorded a runner-up finish in the DHL Toyota Camry in Gainesville so I truly believe we have so many good things coming for the rest of the season."
The Funny Car category has seen Cruz Pedregon and Johnny Gray rounding into early championship contenders with two wins apiece early in the season. Matt Hagan is showing renewed success and Ron Capps, Jack Beckman, Robert Hight and Courtney Force will try to add their names in the history books as Englishtown winners.
The Top Fuel category will feature intense racing action with Chesterfield, N. J. native Antron Brown vying for his first Top Fuel victory at the track to go next to his two Pro Stock Motorcycle wins. Tony Schumacher, Brandon Bernstein, Morgan Lucas, Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force will also be looking for wins at the event.
The Pro Stock category is once again proving to be one of the toughest categories in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with winners and losers separated by only hundredths of a second during many of the elimination rounds. Mike Edwards has the points lead in the category on the strength of two wins, with Jeg Coughlin and Allen Johnson breathing down his neck in second and third in points. Melville, N.Y. resident Vincent Nobile will look to get his first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series win at his home track. Greg Anderson, who has the most Pro Stock wins at the track with five, will be trying to earn his first victory of the season.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle season has been dominated by Hector Arana Jr. on his Lucas Oil Buell, but Andrew Hines, hometown favorite Eddie Krawiec, and surging Scotty Pollacheck are all contenders for the NHRA Wally at the event.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them firsthand to see the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. While visiting the pits, interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway are two popular areas fans won't want to miss.
The teams in several categories of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will be on hand to thrill the crowds during the weekend with intense side-by-side competition. The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series also will be featured in its fourth event of the 2013 season.
• SCHEDULE: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:15 p.m. Friday, May 31, and will continue Saturday, June 1 18, at noon and 2:15 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 2.
• TICKETS: For tickets, call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800. Tickets also are available online at www.racewaypark.com.
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 5 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, June 1, and two hours and 30 minutes of eliminations coverage at 4:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, June 2.
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