This weekend marks the first visit by hilarious car driver Alexis de Goria to Virginia Motorsports Park. But Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Supra racer team owner and crew chief, Del Worsham, is certainly familiar with it.
He won here 13 years ago in a funny car, and said he loves the facility.
“The surface of the racetrack at Virginia Motorsports Park is exceptional, and one of the best on the Tours,” Warsham said. “Tommy Franklin and the Franklin family have done a great job at this facility. I have been racing there since the ’90s and won there at Funny Car in 2009.”
It’s the same for Top Fuel contenders Justin Ashley and Josh Hart, although they both have track experience from their Top Alcohol Dragster days in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
“I raced the VMP In Top Alcohol Dragster,” said Ashley, who had a Phillips Connect and Vita C Shot Dragster in third, just 46 points behind leader Brittany Force. “I drove the car here once at the Top Alcohol Dragster in a regional event in 2018. My dad Mike has raced there a few times at Funny Car.So I’m relatively familiar with the racetrack.The most important thing about racing on a new track is just reducing your visuals.You want to know where the turns are and what the track looks like when you’re in the racecar.No It takes time, but the little things matter. And preparation is key.”
Overall, his impression of the VMP was, “Well, I think it’s cool. I mean, once you get into it, you hear a lot about how awesome the actual track surface was, and you can tell just being there how smooth it was really. The facility is great, and it’s nice to see new fans. I’ve been here before at the Top Fuel. So everyone is excited and engaged and obviously a really great first impression.”
Based on his memories from 2018, he said the deck is “totally different. It’s funny — if you’d told me we’d be in this situation in 2022, and we’d be racing the Top Fuel again at the same spot, I’d probably say you’re crazy. Until we’re back here, The race at the Top Fuel is a completely different experience to a national event. It’s just one thing, it really gives you a chance, it gives me a chance to reflect and realize how far I’ve come because of the great people that have surrounded us.”
Ashley said he didn’t have any unusual concerns on Friday trying to make a strong pass in the wrong circumstances: “I think there’s always a certain level of anxiety, especially during the first qualifying round. Your goal in the first session is always to go from A to B. Then worry about the rest later so you know you’re hard on the field and you’ll be in the field on Sunday. I mean, the only apprehension is just making sure we go in there and do a nice, clean, safe lap.” He said he was pleased, “Not only [to] Do it, but as evidence of Mike Green and Tommy Delago, they did it and did a great job at it, and we went into second place”
Brittany Force put herself in more time zone than any other Top Fuel Friday rider with a track record of 3.710secs elapsed time and a track record speed of 335.82 mph. Ashley clocked 3.725 seconds EST, and Gatornationals finalist Doug Foley finished third overnight with a time of 3.733 seconds.
Ashley said he knew his statement would be good.
“It felt like it was going to work. Honestly, I felt like there was some air to spare in there. Nothing was really on edge,” he said. Everything came back, looked nice and clean. It was pretty much making it all the way through, and from the driver’s perspective, it felt like it was going to work. It’s nice and smooth.”
For Hart, this weekend is the second time this year that he has competed on the racetrack for the first time. But it is not completely unknown. In 2019, Hart set the fastest time of his career in the Top Alcohol Dragster, 5.132 seconds, in his first round victory at Virginia Motorsports Park.
“I have experience from my Top Alcohol Dragster days in Virginia, but we haven’t raced in Virginia in two years,” he said. “I set my own elapsed time record for Top Alcohol Dragster at this track, so I feel good about coming back. The biggest difference will be my race from TechNet Dragster at over 320mph but after the first pass I know everything is going to be good.”
“We had a great season in 2021 and got off to a good start this year,” Hart said. “Then we had some issues with the new car and some things that no one had gone through before. We worked together to find out, and now I really feel like this team is stronger than ever. This TechNet team is going to succeed.”