Mac Tools U.S. Nationals
Wilkerson blazes to the final round in the Showdown
In the first round of the Showdown, which was also the day’s first qualifying session; Wilkerson brought the house to its feet. He had lane choice over his opponent, Ron Capps and took the left lane. Every car ahead of Wilkerson in that lane smoked the tires, but Wilk and his car chief, Jeff Jacobs were confident that they could master the lane. And master it they did. Wilkerson laid down the quickest Funny Car pass of the day, a jaw dropping 4.141 at 299.13 mph. In the semifinal round, which was the final qualifying session of the weekend, Wilk again took the left lane and easily took out the legendary John Force. Force couldn’t keep up with Wilkerson’s 4.230. In the final-round of the Showdown, Wilkerson faced off against Cruz Pedregon and again had lane choice and again took the left lane. But this time the outcome wasn’t in Wilkerson’s favor. He slowed to a 4.280 and Pedregon got the $100,000 prize with his 4.184.
“It was an exciting day” said Wilkerson, “We had a good car today but we just couldn’t make it hang on to the end. It should have run another 4.14 on our last pass too; it just put a hole out right after I stepped on the gas. That was really disappointing. I thought we had it tuned-up enough but it didn’t care much for what we did. It had the same exact early numbers as when it went the 14. The drive shaft looks the same. As soon as the hole dropped everything went to heck in a hand basket. But Cruz and his team did a good job and they’ve been so close all year, so it’s good for them. But we needed the money. The points mean nothing but the money is everything. I should have just leaned on it as hard as I wanted to and if we smoked the tires, so be it. But you don’t win like that either.”
With one big day down, it’s time to concentrate on race day. In the first-round tomorrow, Wilkerson will meet up with the No. 8 qualifier and friend, Del Worsham.
“We hate going up against Del in the first-round,” said Wilkerson, “we’d much rather face him in the finals. But hey, all we can do is try again. We learned some things today, so we just need to go and run the race track again. If we lose we lose and if we win we win. But we have a good car. The guys are doing a good job and the car is running good. We just have to make it run better. We’ll go out tomorrow and maybe have a better day. If we make it to the finals again, well it will be a great weekend.”
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