NHRA Toasts 2011 Champions


HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — A pair of first-time world-championship winners, Del Worsham and Matt Hagan, headlined those drivers crowned Monday evening during the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series awards ceremony at the Grand Ballroom at the Hollywood and Highland Center.

Two other NHRA Full Throttle Series world champions – Jason Line and Eddie Krawiec, both repeat champs in their categories – also were presented checks and trophies for their accomplishments during the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.

Southern California native Worsham, 41, earned his first championship title in Top Fuel after spending the 20 previous seasons behind the wheel of a Funny Car. He raced to eight victories in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster, including at the finale at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, in a season that saw four drivers in close contention for the championship on the final day of racing. Worsham earned $500,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle for the series crown.

Virginia cattle rancher Hagan, 28, avenged a disappointing end to the 2010 season, when he lost a 38-point lead on the final day of racing and the Funny Car title to John Force, by winning the $500,000 world championship this year in his DieHard Dodge Charger. Hagan claimed two victories and set the national record with a milestone performance of 3.995 seconds in Charlotte at the opening Countdown playoff event en route to his first championship title.

Line, 42, closed out his second Pro Stock world championship (also 2006) one race early, as the driver of the Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP celebrated his title in Las Vegas in late October following the penultimate event in the six-race Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. Line, a native Minnesotan who now calls North Carolina home, earned $250,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle.

Krawiec, 34, earned his second world-championship title (also 2008) in Pro Stock Motorcycle by racing to four victories in six final rounds on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, including two wins during the Countdown playoffs. Krawiec, an Englishtown, N.J., native who now lives near Indianapolis, claimed $75,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle for this season’s title.

Pro Stock Motorcycle rookie Hector Arana Jr. 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. Arana, who got hot on his Lucas Oil Buell after winning the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at Indianapolis and then raced to two victories during the Countdown to the Championship playoffs for a second-place points finish, received the award based on votes from a panel of the nation’s top motorsports journalists. The other candidates in the loaded rookie class were Vincent Nobile, Dominick Lagana, Steve Kent, Jerry Savoie, Brian Thiel, Justin Finley, Michael Ray and Buddy Perkinson.

Winners of the Full Throttle Hard-Working Crew Award, which recognizes the hardest-working crews in each of the four NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series categories, were 83-year-old legend Chris Karamesines’ dragster crew in Top Fuel ($25,000) for winning the first round of eliminations at Bristol Dragway in June, his first round-win in NHRA competition since 1990; Robert Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang crew in Funny Car ($25,000) for winning at Topeka despite having one of its crew members get injured and miss the race; Erica Enders’ ZaZa Racing crew for advancing to the final round in Pro Stock ($15,000) at Brainerd Int’l Raceway; and Krawiec’s Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson crew in Pro Stock Motorcycle ($5,000) for racing to victory at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals and setting the national speed record at 199.26 mph.

Ford was named the NHRA Manufacturers Cup winner for the fourth time since NHRA started presenting the award in 1964. Ford also won NHRA Manufacturers Cup titles in 1964, 1965 and 1982. Funny Car racers Mike Neff, Hight, Bob Tasca III, Tim Wilkerson and John Force and Pro Stock racer Larry Morgan, along with NHRA Lucas Oil Series drivers Drew Skillman, Grant Lewis and Randy Hopkins, among others, spearheaded the winning effort for Ford. Jamie Allison, director, Ford North American Motorsports, accepted the award on behalf of Ford.

Drivers in seven categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also were recognized as 2011 world champions: Duane Shields (Top Alcohol Dragster), Frank Manzo (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Lou Ficco Jr. (Competition Eliminator), Jackie Alley (Super Stock), Joseph Santangelo II (Stock Eliminator), Gary Stinnett (Super Comp) and Peter Biondo (Super Gas).