ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA -- Del and Chuck Worsham have ended speculation about the leadership position on their Checker- Schuck's-Kragen "Blue Team" Pontiac Funny Car, driven by Johnny Gray, by announcing the promotion of crew members Chris Cunningham and Marc Denner to fill the vacant post.
Cunningham and Denner will be Co-Crew Chiefs on the blue team, and will work directly with Del and Chuck Worsham on tuning philosophies and directions. Both Cunningham and Denner held mid-level management positions with Worsham Racing over the past year, and are veterans of the sport.
Cunningham has been working in drag racing for 21 years and, as Lead Mechanic, was Dave Fletcher's assistant on the Johnny Gray car in 2002. He has worked at or near the highest levels of the sport with many of its top teams, and Worsham felt he was a perfect fit to work with Denner atop the blue squad in 2003.
"We've always felt lucky to have Chris on our team, because he's one of the smartest guys out here and has done it all on a Funny Car," said Worsham. "Chris has enormous experience, has a real sense for what it takes to make the adjustments we have to make on these cars, and he and Marc work extremely well together. We think they're going to make a fantastic pair, they each bring particular strengths to the program, and we're excited about how the blue car will run next year."
Cunningham worked for Darrell Gwynn, Whit Bazemore, Alan Johnson, and Jerry Toliver, among others, prior to joining the Worsham camp in early 2002. He sees this role as a natural progression.
"I've worked right alongside some of the best tuners in the business, giving ideas and sharing input, and that includes this past season when I had the pleasure of working with Dave Fletcher," Cunningham said. "To team up with Marc and take over the helm on the blue car is a great honor, and I'm very proud to take on the role as a part of Worsham Racing. We have some very smart people here, and no one works any harder than these guys, so I'm excited to get going."
Denner joined Worsham Racing prior to the 1997 season, and rose through the ranks to an unofficial "first assistant" position on the Worsham Racing/CSK red team.
"Marc has been with us for six years, and his career has been a perfect example of a guy wanting to learn more, wanting to do more, wanting to run things, then going out and making that all happen," said Del Worsham. "He's been right at my side for years now, and is the guy I always trust to get things done, get them done right, and keep everyone organized and moving in the right direction. Since the day he started with us he has shown terrific aptitude, and he's picked up more and more knowledge each year. He's very smart, very intuitive, and very much in touch with these cars."
Denner, who is the son of former 1970's Top Fuel driver Don Denner, feels this appointment is a major step in the career path he has envisioned since childhood.
"I've been around fuel cars since I was a little kid growing up in Wichita," he said. "This is what I've always wanted to do, and getting hired by the Worshams in 1997 was a huge step for me. I've been patient, I learned the ropes, and learned these cars. I've also learned that you never know everything, there's always more out there, and I'm ready for more responsibility. Chris and I have always been good friends, and we respect each other a lot. I'm ready to get at this right now, and I'm honored to be given the chance."
One of the first projects Denner and Cunningham will oversee is the transfer of the blue team's operation to the team's headquarters in Anaheim, as well as the move into a new transporter. Both Checker-Schuck's-Kragen teams plan to test extensively in Arizona prior to the 2003 season.
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