Commerce: Tim Wilkerson preview

WILKERSON HEADS TO ATLANTA WITH CHANGES AFOOT COMMERCE, Ga. (April 14, 2009) -- No one ever claimed Tim Wilkerson was timid. And, with four round wins in the bank after five races, few would consider his 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season to be off...

WILKERSON HEADS TO ATLANTA WITH CHANGES AFOOT

COMMERCE, Ga. (April 14, 2009) -- No one ever claimed Tim Wilkerson was timid. And, with four round wins in the bank after five races, few would consider his 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season to be off to anything other than a solid, if not spectacular, start. But, it's also true that no one expects more from himself and his team, than the popular driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby Mustang Funny Car, and after bowing out in the first round at Las Vegas, the LRS owner/driver made a decisive call. He will be racing in Atlanta with a new chassis.

Wilkerson began the 2009 season with two new sets of pipe; one in a standard configuration and one with front suspension. When the latter option was not certified for racing, he sent it back to its birthplace at McKinney Corp. to be retrofitted with a standard front end, and his team worked hard over the last week to have it ready for this weekend's Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals, at Atlanta Dragway. A new chassis is no small undertaking, but Wilkerson was not afraid to make the move.

"We haven't been bad or anything, so far this year, and the car was showing some solid signs of life, but we felt better about this car during pre-season testing so I can't see any good reason to put off bringing it back out," Wilkerson said. "Even without the suspension, I think we all wished we could have started the season with this car, but it needed to go back and get re-done, so we came out with the other one. Every chassis has its own personality, no matter how much they're built alike, and like I said, it was okay and worked fine, but 'okay' isn't what we're after here. We want to win and this just felt like a good time to change things up.

"Now, if I was Ron Capps with three wins in the first five races, I'd have to be pretty dumb to change anything, much less haul a new chassis out, but we're 4-4 and haven't been to a final yet. With this car back in the shop, I think we would've had to be pretty stupid not to want to run it. We're just trying to put the best race car we have on the track, for Levi, Ray & Shoup, all of our other sponsors, and all of our fans. We owe that to everyone."

Wilkerson also firmly believes that mid-April is no time to hit any panic buttons, and he knows that despite his current Full Throttle points ranking, in the No. 12 position, things can turn around in a hurry. Never one to see the glass half-empty, the LRS star aims to fill it to the brim, and he knows how quickly the points situation can change.

"We're not making the move because we lost to John Force in the first round last week," he said. "Heck, if you switch cars every time Force beats you, you're going to need deep pockets and your own in-house chassis shop, working around the clock. We're making the change because we go to every race aiming to win, not just be good, and we think this car gives us a better shot at it.

"Even now, one quick trip to the final round will move us right into the middle of the top ten because the points are very tight, and the goal is to be in the top ten at the end of the summer, so that you're in the Countdown. I honestly believe we'd be there with the other car, and like I said it was starting to come around and run pretty good, but we think this chassis gives us the best shot at getting really hot, and maybe going on a little tear or a hot streak.

"There's another reason to bring it out now, and that's to make sure we get a few laps on it before we get to St. Louis at the end of the month. St. Louis is a really important race for us, with tons of people making the trip down from LRS, and too many of our friends from central Illinois in the stands to even count. We always want to be dialed-in the best we can for the St. Louis race, and beyond, so this gives us that chance. That doesn't mean we can't put this car on the track in Atlanta and take it right to the win, though. This car should be good enough to do that, we just have to be smart enough to do it, and hopefully we are. We're going to Atlanta to win the race, not test a new car, but I think we'll be better in the long run for making this change now."

Bold moves often result in big results, and Tim Wilkerson isn't afraid to pull the trigger, no matter what time of year it is. After all, from risk comes reward.

-credit: twr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Tim Wilkerson