Lewis Worden will make his first NHRA Pro Stock start since 1999 at zMAX Dragway.
Worden, a Festus, Mo. native, returned to racing at LucasOil Raceway at Indianapolis after a lengthy absence but he missed the field at Indy. Worden’s second time out proved to be the charm.
The driver of the Jim Cunningham Ford Mustang posted an elapsed time of 6.676 seconds in O'Reilly NHRA Nationals qualifying, which was enough for the No. 16 seed.
Prior to his run at Indy, Worden wasn’t sure when his last attempted race was. He hadn’t competed in a Pro Stock event since the 1999 AutoZone Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park.
“It’s been so long I can’t even remember, to be honest,” Worden said. “Ever since I got out of racing (in 1999) I still stayed connected.”
Worden’s No. 16 seed surprised the 56-year-old former construction worker. He didn’t think he had the car – or the reflexes – to make the field, but he made it happen.
“You can always expect the unexpected in Pro Stock,” Worden said. “You never know. It takes luck. It takes skill. Right now, (it was) luck more for us than anything. We’ve got a ways to go with our program. But we know that, and we’re trying.”
When he entered zMAX Worden hadn’t qualified for an event since 1997, but putting an end to the 15-year streak – which Worden figured would never end – was a great relief.
“By all rights Kurt (Johnson) should be in over us but he just had an unfortunate day and luck was on our side,” Worden said.
“It’s a tremendous confidence boost.”
Worden said his approach to facing No. 1 seed Vincent Nobile – who was in grade school when Worden last raced before Indy – would be the same as it was in 1997.
“It’s the same thing. We have to go up there and do the absolute very best we can,” Worden said. “It’s all we can do, and we’re definitely going to do our best.”
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