D Wilk Ready For 2011 Debut In Bristol
It's been a little more than a year since Dan Wilkerson last strapped into a fire-breathing Nitro Funny Car to make a trip down the track at an NHRA national event, but he will be back in action this weekend in a beautiful Summit Racing Equipment Shelby Mustang, and he can't wait to get there.
D Wilk last raced in Joliet 53 weeks ago, and since then has spent his time as follows: A) Getting his bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Illinois - Springfield B) Landing a job at a Springfield, Ill. tax prep and accounting office, thereby getting to experience the thrash of a tax season C) Dreaming of getting back in his Funny Car on the NHRA Full Throttle tour. The wait is finally over.
I got to test my dad's car there ...
"It sure seems like more than a year ago, but I'm not looking backwards now, I'm only looking ahead to this weekend and my first lap in the Summit Racing Ford," Wilkerson said. "To have Summit Racing behind us, and to have this unbelievably beautiful car all ready to go, it just makes this even more special. I suppose my first pro race in the NHRA will always be a highlight but this is right up there, with us having Summit Racing on-board and all the shiny parts and pieces ready to go.
"And, of all the places you could go to race, Bristol would have to be right near the top, too. There's nothing like Thunder Valley, and even though I haven't officially raced there yet I have been down the Bristol track in a Funny Car. I got to test my dad's car there, and even inside the car you can tell the surroundings are different. Driving down the track into that valley is awesome, and the fan experience is pretty wild too. The noise just echoes and rumbles. It's a great place to race."
D Wilk will have a short but notable streak to work on and continue when he arrives in Bristol. It's only a tiny bit short of John Force's other-worldly streak of qualifying at 395 consecutive races, but a young driver has to start somewhere and Wilkerson is now 3-for-3 in terms of making the field at NHRA national events. He'll work on his fourth straight starting spot beginning on Friday.
... we hope the data we get can help my dad.
"I figure I only have to get a full-time deal in the next year, and then qualify at every race for about the next 18 or 19 years, and then we'll be right there," Wilkerson said with laugh. "Seriously, that's an amazing statistic, and when you're my age with only three pro races under your belt, you look at something like that and just shake your head. I can't imagine that record ever being matched.
"But for us, having run just the three races in the last two and a half seasons, it's still important to make the field and be part of the race on Sunday. That's what this is all about. We're not going to Bristol with a show car, although it's pretty enough to be one. We're going there to get in the field, and hopefully win some rounds. While we're doing that, we hope the data we get can help my dad. He's helped me my whole life, so if I can help him get in the Countdown and win some races, that's the least I can do."
So far, all indications are that Dan Wilkerson is bound to be a star on the NHRA tour, at some point in the near future. He aims to make that star burn a little brighter this weekend, at the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals.