Wilkerson hits a double header
Topeka, Sunday: Sunday has not been good to Tim Wilkerson since the first race of the season, but starting last week in Englishtown, N. J., Wilkerson's Sundays have been improving. Today at the 15th Annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX Wilkerson's improvements were twofold. Not only did Wilkerson advance to the second round, but he took out Ron Capps in the process. Wilkerson had fallen victim to Capps in the first round twice this year, so he was anxious to even the score.
Capps, who had lane choice, put Wilkerson in the right lane. But that didn't seem to bother the Levi, Ray & Shoup (LRS) Pontiac. Capps smoked the tires and watched Wilkerson sail by him with a 4.860-second, 316.01-mph run.
"It was pretty neat to put Capps on the trailer for a change," said Wilkerson. "We ran our new blower and I was pretty happy with it."
For the second round, Wilkerson again found the LRS Pontiac in the right lane, this time against Whit Bazemore. The two cars were dead even to the 330-foot mark. Then there was smoke from Wilkerson's tires and Bazemore went on to get the win.
"Now we have the John Force syndrome," said Wilkerson, "we can't make it past the second round. Maybe we could change places, I could make it down the track, and Force wouldn't red light. I really do feel bad for him red-lighting lately. But in all seriousness, the team worked hard and did a great job. Plus I hope our LRS and Sioux City Truck and Trailer guests had a good time this weekend.
"We really didn't change much for that run against Bazemore. I'm trying to just race the race track and all I was looking to do was go from A to B. But 'Bessie' just isn't cooperating. I don't know what to do, maybe I need to have a talk with her before we go to Joliet next week."
Wilkerson racing for the future
Topeka, Saturday: As the last two Top Fuel dragsters were readying to make their final qualifying pass, the rain beset Heartland Park, causing them and the entire Funny Car class, that was waiting in the staging lanes, to go back to their pit area. After a two-hour delay and a nearly 20-degree drop in temperature, the Funny Cars were able to go back out and complete their last qualifying session of the event.
The loyal fans that waited out the delay were treated to some exciting racing, including track records in both e.t. and mph. As Tim Wilkerson approached the starting line he was in the No. 7 spot. Shutting the car off 3.82 seconds into the run, which was around the 900-foot mark, Wilkerson still ran a 4.964 e.t. Only No. 1 qualifier Tony Pedregon ran quicker to half-track. As the session came to a close, the Levi, Ray & Shoup (LRS) Pontiac is qualified 11 for the O'Reilly Summer Nationals.
"We ran our new PSI blower today," said Wilkerson, "and it really showed a lot of promise and that's what we need to do. We're racing for the future and man it really looks good. We were second only to Tony Pedregon at half-track on that last run. It would have run a 4.79 or 4.80, which would have been the No. 2 qualifier. It smoked to tire ever so slightly when it went one to one and it shoved me out of the groove, so I shut it off.
"I'm confident that it will continue to perform well; we just have to decide how to run it. We're just going to out there tomorrow and just test the race track some more. I'm not worried about who we race or what we race or when we race. I'm just going to go out there and make another good run and if things fall on our side, it will be good. That's our new approach; on every run we're going to go out there and see what we can learn and how fast we can go."
In the first round of eliminations, Wilkerson will face the green Skoal car, driven by Ron Capps. This will be the third time this season that the two have met in the first round. And this just may be the time that Wilkerson gets the win because he does well at this track.
"I enjoy it here in Topeka," said Wilkerson, "and we had special guests from LRS today. I know I had a great time and I certainly hope they did. I'd like to thank them for coming out here today and supporting me and the team."
Wilkerson solidly in the show at Heartland Park
Topeka, Friday: Pleasant temperatures graced Friday qualifying at the O’Reilly Summer Nationals. It took Tim Wilkerson to the second pass to figure out how to run the Levi, Ray & Shoup Pontiac in these conditions after coming off of good air and cold temperatures in Englishtown, N. J. last weekend.
On the first pass of the day, Wilkerson went up in smoke and ran 8.101 seconds at 101 mph. Then as the temperature began to drop, the Funny Cars went out to make their evening qualifying attempt. It was for this pass, that Wilkerson showed that he figured out how to adjust his tune-up for Heartland Park. He improved to a 4.861 at 315.56 mph. This pass put Wilkerson in seventh place when the session was done.
"The problem we have here is that we came from Englishtown where the air is so great that you can’t do anything wrong,” explained Wilkerson. “Then you come to this place where the air isn’t very good. And you think you’re standing on the motor and you’re really not. That’s what happened to us in the first round. The thing would have been just fine if I just would have run the clutch a little slower. So for the second pass, I slowed the clutch down, put a little more motor in it and you could see by looking at the way the run was that it wasn’t enough. But it was a good run for what we were trying to do. If it wasn’t showing rain for tomorrow, I would have been a little more aggressive. I was a little conservative based on the weather forecast. We’ll put on the new PSI blower for tomorrow, because we need some laps on it to learn how to run it. And since we’re in the show solid, we can try it and see how it works out.”
Wilkerson sets winning goal for Heartland Park Topeka
Topeka, pre-race: Funny Car racer Tim Wilkerson has a good time everywhere he goes and Topeka will be no exception. The 15th annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals is going to be a busy weekend for Wilkerson and his team.
Heartland Park Topeka isn't Wilkerson's closest track, but it is for his major associate sponsor, Sioux City Truck & Trailer. They've invited many guests to their hospitality suite this weekend. Since Wilkerson has a long-time relationship with Sioux City Truck & Trailer, he has many friends in the group. Plus his major sponsor, Levi, Ray & Shoup is having hospitality on Saturday. So, there are more friends and acquaintances to spend time with.
Then there is the issue of actually racing the car. Wilkerson has enjoyed good performance at this race in past years. He had a win here in his Top Alcohol Funny Car in 1994 and last year he qualified fourth and advanced to the final round. Wilkerson and the team hope that the Levi, Ray & Shoup Pontiac will again enjoy winning performance.
"We look forward to this race," said Wilkerson. "We seem to be able to make the car run here and we hope to keep that up this weekend. We have a lot of special guests here and last year we treated them to some great racing. So the pressure is on for this year. How do you improve upon a final-round appearance other than winning the race?"
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