Dan Wilkerson Claims Provisional ...
Dan Wilkerson Claims Provisional #1 Qualifier Spot at First Career National Event
Son of current NHRA points leader Tim Wilkerson scores impressive debut at IHRA Motor City Nationals
MILAN, Mich. (March 23, 2008) -- Dan Wilkerson has big shoes to fill. The son of current NHRA Nitro Funny Car points leader Tim Wilkerson took a huge step towards filling those shoes at the IHRA Motor City Nationals at Milan Dragway.
Wilkerson, from Springfield, Ill., made the best of his first-ever Nitro Funny Car competitive pass by carding a 4.831 at 316.01 mph to move to the head of the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro qualifying list Friday night. Though Dan Wilkerson has made a name for himself in the Alcohol Funny Car ranks, winning the NHRA Division 3 title last season, he has always wanted to move into the nitro ranks. Though he earned his license last season,the Motor City Nationals were the first chance he had to show what he could do behind the wheel of the '07 Impala his father has put in the Winner's Circle on the NHRA tour twice this season.
"We didn't really think we were going to go that fast," Dan Wilkerson said. "We were trying to go low 90's or high 80's, but the car definitely got my attention at about 100 feet because it was really hauling the mail. It moved around a little bit, a little more that I would have hoped for, but I kept it in the groove for the most part. So overall it was a good run."
Tim Wilkerson was pleased with how his son handled himself.
"As soon as the weather got better we knew it was going to be a little quicker than we expected," he said. "When I thought we would be running we thought the track would be in the 90's, but when the track temperature went down into the 70's we changed it a little bit and picked up three or four hundredths. But if we would have had it tuned up like I thought it should have been tuned up it would have went in the 70's. But that's okay, we don't have to go that fast anyway. We're trying to teach him how to drive. He tends to over-steer it because it's going so fast, but he's doing very well."
Scott Palmer (Marionville, MO) claimed the provisional #1 qualifier spot in the Torco Racing Fuels Top Fuel class with a 4.597 pass at 317.49 mph. Palmer was the #1 qualifier at the IHRA Spring Nationals in Rockingham one month ago and will have to survive two Saturday qualifying sessions if he hopes to end up #1 on the final qualifying sheet.
"We have no Crew Chief," Palmer said with a chuckle. "When Lance Larsen and Johnny West are around they give us some advice, but Rob Flynn, Lee Beard and David Powers Motorsports...they gave us that tune-up. And Rob Flynn is a god."
Kenny Lang (Grande Pointe, Mb.) put together a breath-taking pass during the Friday evening Pro Modified qualifying session, setting the track ET record and claiming the provisional pole with a 5.964 pass at 239.36 mph. Lang carried the front tires of his '53 Corvette almost to the 330' timing block before setting them down and cruising straight down the groove to the finish line. Lang, who won last month in Rockingham, had the quickest afternoon qualifying session as well and, with his evening shot, claimed the five Last Man Standing bonus points.
"It was a good run that felt a touch fast at the start," Lang said. "It was a strong car and a smooth run, it felt really good."
Paul Noakes (London, Ont.) did something not many Alcohol Funny Car drivers have been able to do this season...finish better than Laurie Cannister. Cannister had been the quickest AFC in all 12 Alcohol Funny Car sessions this season heading into the Motor City Nationals, and claimed both national event titles to boot, but Noakes drove the Amalie Oil InstiGator to the top of the provisional qualifying sheet Friday night with a 5.791 at 244.03 mph. Noakes, in his first season driving for car owner Terry McMillen, also claimed the five Last Man Standing bonus points.
Jeff Dobbins (Wilmington, N.C.) cleaned up in the Pro Stock class Friday evening, claiming the provisional #1 qualifier position and winning the $500 bonus for being the Quarter-Max Pro Stock Challenge winner. The Quarter-Max Pro Stock challenge, like the IHRA Last Man Standing, rewards the driver with the quickest qualifying pass, who also won against the car in the other lane, with five bonus points.
Dobbins, driving his 2006 Ford Escort, covered the quarter-mile in 6.312 at 221.78 mph to jump to the top of the qualifying sheet. Dobbins was one thousandth of a second off his own track record of 6.311 set last season. He will have to survive two more qualifying sessions Saturday to hold on to the #1 spot.
The IHRA Motor City Nationals presented by GM Performance Division and Heritage Newspapers will continue Saturday, May 24 with two professional qualifying sessions. The first will begin at 2:00pm with all five professional classes running. The field will finalize after Saturday's evening qualifying session, which will start at 6:30pm.