A PAIR OF .08s ON A STELLAR DAY - WILK WILL RUN FROM THE 6th SPOT Tim Wilkerson grabbed three bonus points like a kid stealing chocolate-chip goodies from the cookie jar, during the first qualifying session on Saturday in Pomona. His 4.089 was...
A PAIR OF .08s ON A STELLAR DAY - WILK WILL RUN FROM THE 6th SPOT
Tim Wilkerson grabbed three bonus points like a kid stealing chocolate-chip goodies from the cookie jar, during the first qualifying session on Saturday in Pomona. His 4.089 was not only low e.t. of the session, it cleared the second-quickest lap by a wide margin, as Jack Beckman's 4.140 was as close as anyone got to Wilk's run in Q3.
After on-track delays pushed the second, and final, session back to just after sunset, the big hitters in the Funny Car class reached into their lockers for more than cookies. They grabbed the biggest home-run bats they could find and kept the Auto Club Raceway scoreboards flickering with bigger and better news. Wilk responded with a 4.080, improving slightly on his earlier run, but even-quicker passes by Matt Hagan and Ashley Force Hood knocked him back to the 6th spot for race day. Wilkerson will face Jack Beckman in the opening round.
With the Full Throttle points sheet jammed from 2nd place to 6th, where Wilkerson currently resides, the match-up with Beckman (No. 3 in the points but now only 16 points ahead) will be the first of potentially many that will decide the final points order for 2009. If Wilk defeats Fast Jack, he will pass him in points. Ashley Force Hood, who is in 2nd place and now 27 points ahead of Wilk, faces Bob Bode. Tony Pedregon currently sits 4th on the list, 25 points ahead of Wilkerson, and he will face Matt Hagan in the opening round. Ron Capps, who holds a microscopic 3-point lead on Wilk, is in 5th place and he will run Wilkerson's teammate, Bob Tasca, in round one.
"It was pretty strong out there, and even though we were trying to run a little better than that, you can't complain about putting back-to-back 4.08s on the board," Wilkerson said. "The car made a hard move to the right, way down there, and I'm sure that scrubbed a little e.t. off for us. If it runs a couple of thousandths quicker, it's a 4.079 and everyone gives you a high-five, but we'll take the .08 and go from there.
"Tell you what, it kept going right on me even past the finish line, and I was pulling it left as hard as I could but we came within a few inches of scraping the wall down there, but all that matters is that we didn't, and we have a very fast race car here. If we can just go out there and run to our abilities tomorrow, we have as good a chance to go some rounds as anyone. It's tough to have to run Jack first, but at least you know your points deal is in your own hands and you don't have to root for someone else to beat him for you, so you look at the bright side of it, I guess. I don't have a crystal ball to look into the future, so we'll just have to come out here and do our best and that will decide what number we have on the car next year."