Worsham as Yogi: "It ain't over 'til it's over"
Brainerd, pre-race: The incomparable Yogi Berra said it best and Del Worsham, driver of the Checker, Schuck's, Kragen Impala Funny Car, now echoes his sentiments. With three races left to decide the final spots in the NHRA Countdown, Worsham is but 44 points out of 10th place, which means he could conceivably pass Jack Beckman (who is currently in the 10th position) with a net gain of a couple of round wins and a handful of qualifying points over the span of the next three events. As dire as it felt after going winless on the Western Swing, the classic Yogi-ism still very much applies: "It ain't over 'til it's over."
Of course, there is also the issue of Bob Tasca, who currently sits between Worsham and Beckman, in 11th place, making the chase for the 10th spot more of a leapfrog move for the CSK driver. Tasca held a small lead of five points over Worsham heading into Sonoma, but the margin was reduced to two strictly via qualifying at Infineon Raceway, as both drivers exited the race in the first round. Worsham's No. 6 spot on the grid earned him four qualifying points, while Tasca notched only a single point for his No. 15 slot on the ladder, so each of these often-overlooked qualifying digits now looms large. "Enormous" might actually be a better word to describe each individual POWERade point at this juncture, as the tour resumes this weekend with the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.
"We were pretty crushed to lose in the first round at Sonoma, after having qualified so strongly and then running well in the round," Worsham said. "You just don't expect to have to race Robert Hight in the opening round when you're in the top half, so maybe that misfortune will turn around for us in Brainerd. If we keep running as well as we are, we're bound to get what we deserve on one of these Sundays, and I don't see any reason to think it shouldn't be this Sunday in Minnesota. We have a fast car, it's basically not hurting itself at all, and I know we can run with all of these other teams. It's just a matter of getting the results.
"In Sonoma, we were pretty much the perfect example of doing everything right but getting nothing for it, losing to Robert in a very close race. The truth is, though, that these qualifying points are just critical, and we've really helped ourselves out a lot at the last couple of races by qualifying so well. We've picked up 11 points on the Tasca team just during qualifying at Sonoma and Seattle, and when things are this tight, those are 11 huge points. That's also an indication that the car is running well, because we're not just holding on and trying to make the field. We're well up in the top half and running pretty strong, but we've been ambushed pretty regularly by seriously great cars that are kind of out-of-place in the bottom half, and we end up drawing guys like Hight or (Ron) Capps in round one."
Another motivation for Worsham, as if he needs it, is the fact he has never won in the scenic woods of the Minnesota lake country. Adding a Brainerd win to his lengthy list of conquests would not only add a valuable new trophy to his mantle, but would almost certainly catapult him well up into the Top 10, perhaps even putting him within reach of Mike Neff, who will enter the Brainerd race in 9th place, 98 points ahead of Worsham.
"I think about winning every time I head to a race, so there's no denying that winning four rounds on Sunday is on my mind," Worsham said. "When you win a round or two, you can still actually lose points to the team you're chasing if they go further than you do, but there's one certain thing at this drag race, and that's that the winner of the race gets the most points. We don't have any oil-down penalties in play right now, and the record book is closed for the rest of the year because of the 1000-foot deal, so if you win this Sunday you will absolutely come out with the most Brainerd points. That would be a very good thing.
"Before we get to that point, though, we have to get qualified and we need to keep up the good work in that department. If we can land in the top half this weekend, we'll still be running well and I'll be excited. Then, we simply have to win in the first round. We might be able to catch Tasca with individual qualifying points, but we can't catch Beckman that way, so we have to put the pressure on and get some round wins. With three races left, it's not over yet but I think we have to approach this weekend as a must-win thing. We can't have the attitude that we can still get 'em in Reading or Indy. We need to get 'em now."
As Yogi said, "It ain't over 'til it's over," and for Del Worsham it clearly ain't over yet. Those words of inimitable wisdom, which ring so true right now for Worsham and his CSK team, were provided by the same philosopher who once said "Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore, because it's too crowded." Perhaps Worsham and his gang can find out if that's also true, when looking for a place to celebrate a Brainerd win.
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