NUMBERS GAME FOLLOWS WORSHAM TO LAS VEGAS Every day of the year, tens of thousands of eager gamblers arrive at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas with magic numbers spinning in their heads. Whether it's a specific spot on the roulette wheel, a row of 7s on a slot machine, or a hand of cards that adds up to 21, numbers are a fact of life in Sin City and Checker, Schuck's, Kragen Funny Car driver Del Worsham can't help but be a part of the number crunching crowd. Worsham, however, isn't thinking about gambling. His numbers represent thousandths of a second, and he's had no choice but to pay close attention to them throughout the first four races of the 2006 NHRA season. In drag racing, after all, those thousandths of a second can mean the difference between a bust and a jackpot. Worsham will enter this weekend's NHRA Nationals with a group of 4s and one 7 in his hand, while he hopes to draw the critical numbers that would allow him to win the $40,000 prize as the Funny Car champion on Sunday evening. All of his goals will hinge on even more numbers, and if recent history continues to hold true the most important digits may be those that come two, or even three, places to the right of a decimal point. Worsham's 4s are practically wild, as he sports a 4-4 won/lost record after four races. Four wins in the 1st round have been followed by four 2nd round losses so far this season, and the POWERade points generated by such a record have placed Worsham in the No. 7 spot in the standings. Considering some of the more negative alternatives, the No. 7 spot may not be "lucky" but it surely isn't bad, especially in the context of today's enormously competitive Funny Car class where even the reigning points champion, Gary Scelzi, currently sits outside the top ten with a DNQ on his record. "We knew all along that this year was going to be ridiculous in terms of the competition," Worsham said. "But even knowing that, it was still a bit of a shock to see Gary not make the field in Houston. At the first three races, some major hitters got down to their last qualifying laps needing to make the show and they managed to pull it off, but in Houston the DNQ bug got the champion and that tells you all you need to know about how tough it is out here. We know we can be higher in the points, but for now I'm not complaining about being solidly in the top ten. Every round win is critical right now, and I'm glad we've been able to get one at every race so far, but it really is tough." Tough may be an understatement, and Worsham has first-hand experience in just how maddeningly close these races can be. As opposed to his four opening rounds wins, which have come via a relatively comfortable average margin of .947-seconds against the likes of Scelzi, Tony Pedregon, and Mike Ashley (twice,) Worsham's losses in round two have been consistently razor-thin. Current points leader Ron Capps has ousted Worsham twice, John Force has nipped him once, and Robert Hight claims the other win over the CSK driver, and the average margin for those four losses is a miniscule 30-thousandths of a second. These are the sort of subatomic numbers that can drive a man crazy. "There's no doubt we've already had a season full of heartbreakers and the year is only four races old," Worsham said. "In the old days, not too many years ago, the level of Funny Car competition was so varied you'd have first round races where a few of the teams had almost no chance to win. Even as the race progressed, the chances of seeing two cars go down the track side-by-side wasn't all that high. It seemed like a lot more of the races were won with at least one of the cars having problems. "Now, we have more fast cars than the 16-car field can hold, so even the first round is full of tight racing and anyone can win. For us, we've just had an unbelievable knack for coming up a few inches or a few feet short in round two against some very tough competition. When 7,000 horsepower gets put to the track and two Funny Cars go charging down the quarter-mile in 4.8-seconds, it's amazing that it can come down to thousandths of a second, but it can. Let me tell you, it can." This weekend, at a track where he has never won a race, Del Worsham plans to look everywhere for a couple of thousandths of a second. Should he find a few hiding in his clutch, perhaps within the supercharger, or maybe even in his own right foot, he may have the edge he needs to win that big jackpot. Worsham Racing Team CSK Nitro Funny Cars