NHRA Route 66 Nationals
Wilkerson looking for power
Chicago, Sunday: The rain delayed the start of race day at the 7th Annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals. But once it went away it stayed away long enough for the dedicated fans that came to Route 66 Raceway to enjoy an exciting day of racing.
With family and friends cheering him on, Springfield, Ill. favorite, Tim Wilkerson was ready and anxious to put his Levi, Ray & Shoup Funny Car to the test. In the first round of action, Wilkerson's 4.847/310.20 mph pass was no match for his opponent Cruz Pedregon's tire smoking 6.245. In the next round, Wilkerson had lane choice over Whit Bazemore. The Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevy Monte Carlo thundered through the lights at an improved 4.818 seconds at 318.69 mph. But Wilkerson didn't improve enough to hold off Bazemore who also improved. Bazemore won the round with a 4.762 e.t. at 324.67 mph.
"We were looking to go a little faster than we did in the first round," said Wilkerson. "But it was good enough to get the win and we were happy with that. Then second round we just hopped it up enough that we thought it would go down the track faster, but we wouldn't have beat a 76. Bazemore made a good run and my hat is off to him and the team.
"All in all we had a good weekend. We made a lot of nice runs, didn't do anything wrong and we didn't hurt anything. We just need to make more power. We're going to stay and test tomorrow. We want to see if we can make the car go a little faster."
Rain keeps Wilkerson in the No. 7 qualifying position
Chicago, Saturday: The rain and storms brought an early end to qualifying at the seventh annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals. The Funny Car fields were set on just three qualifying passes. Even though Springfield, Ill., native Tim Wilkerson would have liked to make one more run with his Levi, Ray and Shoup Monte Carlo, he's pleased with his No. 7 qualifying position.
On the day's only pass, Wilkerson ran 4.819 seconds at 317.57 mph., closely duplicating last night's 4.80 pass.
"We would have liked to make a second pass today," said Wilkerson. "We tried something on that run and it worked, so it would have been nice to have another chance to tweak it and I think we could have run in the 70's. But we feel good about going into race day, with what we learned today."
Tomorrow Wilkerson's first round opponent for the second race in a row is Cruz Pedregon. The two have met twice this year, with Wilkerson getting the win both times.
"We really think we can do well tomorrow, but the first round is always so crucial," Wilkerson said. "Cruz has a good team and we can't take them lightly. But we're just going to concentrate on running the race track and getting from point a to point b each round. And if we can stay focused, I think we have a good chance of getting this Levi, Ray & Shoup Monte Carlo into the winner's circle.
Wilkerson in control
Chicago, Friday: Once again the weather played a major role in the completion of the day's racing activities. High winds and light rain marred the nighttime qualifying session at the seventh annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals. But the dedicated fans that stayed until the very end were treated to record-breaking Funny Car racing.
Springfield, Ill. Funny Car pilot, Tim Wilkerson was able to make his Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevrolet Monte Carlo perform just the way he wanted it to under the day's conditions. On Wilkerson's first attempt in the heat of the day, he ran 4.886 seconds at 313.44 mph, giving Wilkerson and his team a good baseline to start of the weekend.
"We just wanted to make it down the track and get ourselves in the show on the first pass," said Wilkerson, "and that's just what we did."
Then during the second session, with less than one half of the Funny Cars still sitting in the staging lanes, the winds began gusting so severely that cars were sent back to the pits. But a short time the weather settled down enough to call the Funny Cars back. Wilkerson took advantage of the time in the pits to make some changes to the Levi, Ray &Shoup Monte Carlo's tune-up because of the change in weather conditions. On this run Wilkerson improved to run 4.805 seconds at 317.94 mph, putting him in the No. 4 spot at the end of the first day of qualifying.
"On the last pass with all the mayhem in the weather, we came back and changed the car and we just weakened it too much," said Wilkerson. "I told Fred that it wasn't going to run a 70, not the way it was tuned up. But it ran just what we expected on both passes today. We're No. 4 and that's good to live with. Hopefully the rain will stay away tomorrow and we can try some more."
Wilkerson looking to add another win where it all started
Chicago, pre-race: Funny Car pilot Tim Wilkerson and his Levi Ray & Shoup (LRS) team are eagerly looking forward to competing at the seventh annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals this weekend. It was here at Route 66 Raceway in 1999, that Wilkerson scored his first Funny Car win defeating the legendary, John Force.
Since that time, Wilkerson and his LRS team have become a very strong force on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing circuit, amassing their additional three wins within the last nine months. Coming off a No. 3 qualifying spot and a semifinal round appearance at last weeks Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac, the Springfield, Ill., native is looking forward to continuing the car's strong performance at one of his hometown tracks.
"We enjoy coming to Joliet," said Wilkerson. "A lot of family and friends join us here, and we like having them with us. Plus we have great memories from our first Funny Car win here. This year we are coming to this track with a good feeling. I don't want to call it confidence, because being too confident can cause your demise. But we have a good database of information and we have started to be able to get the LRS Monte Carlo to react to what we are telling it to do. And as long as we tell it smart things, we should be in good shape. We got a little greedy in the semi's last week in Atlanta, so we'll just have to celebrate our fifth win this weekend."
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