Sonoma, Calif (July 29, 2016) - Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, earned the provisional pole for the Toyota Sonoma Nationals this evening.
Worsham started the Toyota Sonoma Nationals weekend strong, earning two bonus points in the first session with his 3.936 second pass. However, Worsham, and his tuners, Nicky Boninfante and Jon Oberhofer, saved the best for the evening session.
With incredible conditions, the DHL Toyota was ready. Worsham toed the line and ran the 1,000 feet distance in just 3.868 seconds, reseting the Sonoma Raceway track record and Worsham's own career-best. The pass was the fourth-quickest in NHRA history.
"It is a big race for our partners, Toyota, so to do that in front of them, Reg Kenney from DHL and the whole Kalitta Motorsports team is awesome," said Worsham. "We were going up to go faster than we ever have in this DHL Toyota Camry and we definitely accomplished that."
Worsham and the rest of the Funny Car field has two more qualifying attempts tomorrow. If Worsham's DHL Toyota Camry can retain the top spot after the Saturday sessions, it will be Worsham's second no.1 qualifier on the season and second in the last four events. It would also be his second at Sonoma Raceway (2007).
Worsham's Funny Car teammate, Alexis DeJoria, is currently qualified tenth in her Toyota Camry Funny Car. The Team Kalitta Toyota Top Fuel entries of Doug Kalitta and J.R. Todd rank second and fifth, respectively, after day one of the Toyota Sonoma Nationals.
Sonoma, Calif. (July 29, 2016) - Team Kalitta is pleased to announce the addition of a third Funny Car with driver Paul Lee beginning the NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway later this fall. Lee will campaign the McLeod Clutches Toyota Camry Funny Car for Kalitta Motorsports for the last four events on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Series schedule. Leading NHRA crew chiefs Jim Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante will combine for the tuning decisions on Lee’s Funny Car.
“I am beyond excited to be joining Kalitta Motorsports as part of their team,” says Paul Lee, who has been driving Funny Cars for over 25 years. “To be driving for Connie Kalitta and his awesome NHRA drag racing organization is something I’ve worked for and dreamed of my entire career. It will be an honor to drive a car tuned by Jim O and Nicky as well. The Kalitta team will give me a great car; it will be up to me to close the deal on Sunday. I look forward to that challenge and the opportunities that are ahead.”
The expansion will allow Kalitta Motorsports to run a fifth team for the first time in their history. Lee will be campaigning for a multi-car team for the first time as he will join teammates, Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster; J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster; Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, and Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car in the field for the last four 2016 events. Lee will be piloting Worsham’s 2015 championship car with the DHL team acquiring a new Bounty Hunter chassis for the latter part of the season. He will own the equipment, but it will be run out of the Kalitta Motorsports Ypsilanti, Michigan-based shop.
“We are really pleased to be able to partner with Paul in this capacity,” said Oberhofer, Vice President of Operations, Kalitta Motorsports. “He will be owning equipment that is proven. It is a great way for Team Kalitta expand business and get Paul to the track in a top-notch team at an affordable rate with an experienced crew.”
Lee is the President of McLeod Racing LLC, a global leader in automotive and clutch driveline technology based in Orange County, California. He started drag racing at age 18 in his home state of New Jersey. Lee drove Top Alcohol Funny Cars from 1988 until 2005, and won three NHRA National Event titles and one divisional race. Paul stepped up to the Nitro Funny Cars in 2005 and has one Professional Nitro Funny Car title, winning the IHRA Motor City Nationals in 2008. Today, Paul drives exclusively in the NHRA Nitro Funny Car class, running as quick as 4.007 at nearly 318mph in Chuck & Del Worsham’s Funny Car. Paul resides in Orange County, California.
All-time Sonoma wins leader Kalitta looks to add another victory to his tally
Sonoma Highlights: Five wins (2005, 2004, 2000, 1999, 1998); One final (2002); Four poles (2012, 2004, 2003, 1998)
2015 Sonoma Event Recap: Qualified 11th; First round defeat (lost to Clay Millican in the first round)
Previous Event Recap (Denver): Qualified eighth; First round defeat (lost to Tony Schumacher in the first round)
Quotable: “I am excited to be headed back to Sonoma. I have a lot of great memories at this race, and would love to add another with my Mac Tools team this weekend. The performance is there; just need a little luck to go our way.”
Career Stats: 424 starts, 573 round wins (11th all-time), 41 wins (Fourth all-time in Top Fuel), 85 finals, 46 no.1 qualifiers (13th all-time)
2016 Season Stats: Three wins (Houston, Atlanta, Topeka); Three poles (Phoenix, Atlanta, Norwalk), One final (Pomona), 28 round wins
Point Standings: Second (-57); trails first-place Antron Brown by 57 points, leads third-place Steve Torrence by 106 points
Noteworthy: has won his first round pairing in 12 of 14 events this season; all-time Top Fuel wins leader in Sonoma; 2008 Sonoma Raceway Wall of Fame inductee; earned first career win and pole at Sonoma Raceway
Sonoma Highlights: One win (2006); one pole (2009)
2015 Sonoma Event Recap: Qualified third; Semi-Final finish (defeated Jenna Haddock in the first round, Clay Millican in the second round; lost to Dave Connolly in the semi-final)
Previous Event Recap (Denver): Qualified sixth; Semi-Final finish (defeated Scott Palmer in the first round and Richie Crampton in the second round; defeated by Antron Brown in the semi-final)
Quotable: “I am really pleased with the growth and the signs of consistency we have seen with the SealMaster Toyota these past couple races. This is a big race for one of Team Kalitta’s partners, Toyota, and we would love to celebrate with them in the winner’s circle on Sunday.”
Career Stats: 138 starts, 130 round wins, 8 wins, 16 finals, 8 no.1 qualifiers
2016 Season Stats: Three finals (Atlanta, Norwalk, Chicago); Three semi-finals (Pomona, Las Vegas, Denver); 18 round wins
Point Standings: Seventh (-346); trails sixth-place Shawn Langdon by one point, leads eighth-place Clay Millican by 118 points
Noteworthy: Second career win occurred at Sonoma Raceway; won a race on the Western Swing each of the last two seasons; earned eight round wins in the last three races
Sonoma Highlights: One win (2001); One final (2007)
2015 Sonoma Event Recap: Qualified ninth; First round defeat (lost to Chad Head in the first round)
Previous Event Recap (Denver): Qualified third; Semi-Final finish (defeated Todd Simpson in the first round and Ron Capps in the second round; defeated by John Force in the semi-finals)
Quotable: “I have won in Sonoma, but it has been a while and we would love to get another this weekend in this DHL Toyota. We made some gains in Denver, and the new chassis performed well. Jon O, Nicky and the DHL team are working hard, and I hope that work is rewarded this weekend.”
Career Stats: 497 starts, 540 round wins, 38 wins (30 in Funny Car, 8 in Top Fuel), 63 finals (52 in Funny Car, 11 in Top Fuel), 18 no.1 qualifiers (11 in Funny Car, 7 in Top Fuel)
2016 Season Stats: Two finals (Pomona, Las Vegas); Three semi-finals (Epping, Englishtown, Denver); One pole (Norwalk); 18 round wins
Point Standings: Sixth (-243); tied with fifth-place Robert Hight, leads seventh-place Tommy Johnson Jr. by 22 points
Noteworthy: 2015 Funny Car Champion, 2011 Top Fuel Champion; one of three drivers with championships in both nitro classes, second in the Funny Car class with 11 first round wins this season.
DeJoria Sonoma pre-race notes
2015 Sonoma Event Recap: Qualified sixth; First round defeat (Lost to Cruz Pedregon in the first round)
Previous Event Recap (Denver): Qualified fourth; First round defeat (Lost to John Hale in the first round)
Career Stats: 109 Starts, 81 Round Wins, 4 Wins, 7 Final Rounds, 4 No. 1 Qualifiers
2016 Season Stats: One Win (Las Vegas I); One No. 1 Qualifier (Charlotte I); One Final (Las Vegas I); 12 Round Wins
Point Standings: 733 points, ranked 10th
Top Fuel (Unofficial)
1. Antron Brown (1145)
2. Doug Kalitta (1088)
3. Steve Torrence (982)
4. Brittany Force (953)
5. Tony Schumacher (916)
6. Shawn Langdon (800)
7. J.R. Todd (799)
8. Clay Millican (681)
8. Richie Crampton (660)
10. Leah Pritchett (553)
Funny Car (Unofficial)
1. Ron Capps (1120)
2. Courtney Force (998)
3. Jack Beckman (976)
4. Matt Hagan (881)
5. Robert Hight (877)
5. Del Worsham (877)
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. (855)
8. John Force (821)
9. Tim Wilkerson (793)
10. Alexis DeJoria (733)