Funny Car Driver Comes Through for Team CSK at NHRA Carquest Winternationals

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The Pomona Raceway was rainy on Sunday morning and the mood in the pit area of the Checker Schuck’s Kragen Team matched the gloomy weather. Del Worsham suffered a DNQ on Saturday and Jeff Arend knew how important it was to have a good day on Sunday at the Carquest Winternationals.

Arend came through for his team.
CSK Monte Carlo at Winternationals
CSK Monte Carlo at Winternationals
Jeff Arend in CSK pit at Carquest Winternationals
Jeff Arend in CSK pit at Carquest Winternationals
Early on, Arend’s blue CSK/Erie Educational Services Monte Carlo posted strong front half numbers. On Friday, he pedaled his car out of tire shake to make a full lap at 4.849. This put him just above the cut line saving the run.

At Saturday’s final session, Arend found himself on the wrong side of the 16-car limit and the pressure was on.

“Sitting in the car before the last qualifying run, knowing we were on the edge of not qualifying for my first race with this team, that was pressure,” Arend said. “There was pressure on me to keep the car straight and get it to the other end. There was also pressure on the team to bust our way into what ended up being the quickest Funny Car field in history. It’s not like you can be conservative, or just try to get to the finish line, when the bump spot is down in the 4.79 range. You have to hop it up and go for it. Everything has to be just about perfect, and you have to put it all on the line.”

Team CSK uses K&N products
Team CSK uses K&N products
Del Worsham at Carquest Winternationals
Del Worsham at Carquest Winternationals
Arend finished his first Team CSK qualifying weekend with a 4.759, putting him in the No. 11 spot. Del Worsham improved from his earlier runs moments later ending up in the No 16 spot. Sunday was not in the cards for the Captain of the CSK team as Tim Wilkerson’s aim was dead on-target during the next attempt.

“We were pumped with our 4.75 and relieved that we had come through such a critical situation,” said Arend. “To watch Del get bumped out was just a huge let down for everyone. After it happened I was willing to swap places with Del if they’d allow me to give up my place in the field, and I meant that. He’s the reason we’re all here. He is the reason I’m here. We’re all crushed that he missed the field by 2-thousandths of a second.”

The clouds and rain moved away by 11:00 a.m., and the teams were ready by 12:30 p.m. Arend and his team had to win a critical round. He left first, taking a large advantage at the tree. No. 6 qualifier Jack Beckman’s car had problems and Arend’s blue CSK car tore away for an emotional first-round win.

“First round is stressful, at any race, but it’s enormous at the Winternationals,” said Arend. “We had parts issues again. We trashed another motor and made some changes because we were knocking the rods out of it every run. We were hoping to have the answer for how to beat Ron Capps in round two.”

The co-crew chiefs solved the parts breakage problem and Arend had another huge pass. He crossed the finish line in 4.768-seconds with a clean and dry motor. Arend had a win over one of the sport’s premier drivers.

“We have K&N Oil Filters on our CSK Funny Cars,” said Team Manager Bob Wilber. “K&N Filters come through for us every time, and are never anything we have to worry about on the tracks. K&N never fails us.”

In the semi-final Arend faced Robert Height. Hight powered to a huge 4.718 in round two. “If Hight and his team get it all together, you’re going to have a tough time outrunning them,” said Arend. “We knew they’d be loaded and very fast.”

Both drivers left the line with quick reactions to the tree. Arend went 3-for-3 in terms of leaving first and gained a small advantage at the line. As they went down the track, Arend’s car went into tire shake and Hight’s car disappeared down the track. Hight ended up with 4.646, the quickest run by a Funny Car in the history of the sport.

“The car shook, and I pedaled it, but on our best day we weren’t going to beat a 4.64,” said Arend. “That was incredible. Of course we would have loved to go to the final, and winning the race would have been a dream come true. Considering the way things felt Sunday morning, a semi-final finish was good medicine. We took all of our sponsors to the final four and picked the whole team up.”

Follow Jeff Arend and Del Worsham's progress throughout the racing season at the K&N news site. Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.

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