Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals
Wilkerson a victim of rain and circumstances
With cool temperatures and high humidity, it was at least unlikely, and probably impossible, for the Safety Safari to get the track dry and safe for another session, so the results from the lone effort stood as the eliminations field, and Wilkerson's No. 17 spot left him on the outside looking in.
"You name it and it went pretty much wrong for us here, from the weather to some stuff on the car," Wilkerson said. "We had the air line that runs the timer system fail on us, but we couldn't see that or even know it before the run. There was really no way to know it wasn't functional until I hit the throttle, and man the car was just strange. I pedaled it real quick, and it hooked up and was going, but the motor was zinging, just screaming out there. At the same time, it was really obvious the car just wasn't running, so I finally lifted quite a bit early because nothing good was going to happen with the motor running away like that. At the time, it had turned into a pretty nice afternoon and nobody was really thinking about not getting the second run in, so my biggest worry was the fact we were going to have to be heroes on the last pass to get it into the field.
"On top of all that, my visor fogged up on me and I could barely see. So, I've got a car that's obviously hurt or broken, and I can't see. That's a bad combination, so my instinct was to save the car, and maybe me, for the last run. Then, we get back here and service the car, and that's all going along great, when we notice this big black cloud coming over. There was blue sky all around it, but man it found the race track like a magnet. A few little drops turned into a steady rain, then a shower, and that was it.
"Hindsight is perfect, right? It's 20/20 when you look back, so it's hard not to think I should've legged it down there, because the bump ended up being just a 5.06, but there didn't seem to be a good enough reason for that at the moment, when I'm in there hearing the motor scream and the car is just laboring to go anywhere. I guess we're just getting all the bad stuff out of the way right now, and hopefully the rest of the season will be a bit more normal, in all ways. This was just bizarre, and hard to even believe.
"It's the start of a new season, right on the heels of our best season ever, and we sure wanted to come out here and give the Levi, Ray & Shoup people a great weekend, but Mother Nature and an air line got together and spoiled our party. That's just the way it is, so we'll have to bounce back in a couple of weeks, out in
Wilkerson's aborted run was a 5.141, which missed the field by 8-hundredths of a second.
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