POMONA, Calif. (AP) Del Worsham, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. will decide the NHRA Funny Car season title Sunday in the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.
Worsham and Beckman provided a preview Saturday by closing qualifying with a side-by-side 3.89-second race.
''It was a great qualifying effort for the DHL Toyota team,'' said Worsham, who could meet Beckman in a critical semifinal matchup. ''We have the Camry running strong and I am proud of our effort. We will go into tomorrow and lay it all out on the line.''
Series leader Worsham took a 36-point lead over Beckman into the final eliminations. Johnson, 96 points back, needs to have his two rivals lose early and then win the race and set a national record to have any chance at the title.
''It's an unbelievable time to be a fan of nitro Funny Car,'' Beckman said. I really like the position that we are in. It's nerve-wracking because we aren't leading the points, we have to be two rounds better than another car to capture the championship. And this is the scenario where it's fourth down, the clock has almost run out and you're going to get the ball again and you have to be perfect. And I think we can be perfect.''
Worsham, who qualified third, will meet Tony Pedregon in the opening round, and No. 2 qualifier Beckman will face Chad Head. Beckman, who entered the playoffs as the top seed and had a record-setting regular season, will need to go two rounds more than Worsham to win the series crown.
Ron Capps led Funny Car qualifying, season champion Antron Brown was the fastest in Top Fuel, Greg Anderson topped the Pro Stock field, and Jerry Savoie had the Pro Stock Motorcycle lead.
Capps had a 3.886-second run at 326.87 mph in a Dodger Charger, Brown had a 3.721 at 326.71, Anderson ran a 6.490 at 213.03 in a Chevrolet Camaro, Savoie had a 6.803 at 197.51 on a Suzuki.