Pomona: Wilkerson - Ford interview 2009-02-03

This Week in Ford Racing: Tim Wilkerson driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang Funny Car finished second in the 2008 NHRA Funny Car championship narrowly missing the title as a single car entry in the age of multi-car teams. In ...

This Week in Ford Racing:

Tim Wilkerson driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang Funny Car finished second in the 2008 NHRA Funny Car championship narrowly missing the title as a single car entry in the age of multi-car teams. In 2009, Wilkerson formed a technical alliance with Bob Tasca III and Tasca Racing allowing the two single car entries additional access to data and set- up information. As part of the alliance Wilkerson will campaign a Ford Mustang for the 2009 season which kicks off later this week at Pomona, Calif. with the NHRA Winternationals.

YOU HAVE A TECHNICAL ALLIANCE WITH BOB TASCA. WITH TESTING STIPULATIONS IMPLEMENTED BY NHRA, HOW CRITICAL IS YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH TASCA RACING? "With some bans on trying to keep costs down and keeping the level playing field with testing slowed down, I think that the more information we can get is going to be even better for all of us. Plus, I have a new three- frame which I didn't have last year, and Tasca has one of them also, so all that is going to be a positive to our cause by the end of the day."

HOW HAS TESTING GONE TO THIS POINT? "It's gone okay. We've got some different stuff that I've never had. That three-rail car is really weird, so I'm trying to figure out how that thing works and what makes it tick and that kind of thing. It shows a lot of promise. I mean, I'm going to be hard- pressed to say that we can do at the beginning of this year what we did last year, but I think that we're going to have a good car and I think that the Mustang is going to help us a lot. That body is one that we've always wanted, at least I have, so that's going to be a good thing for the team. And then dealing with Bob is going to be a good thing for us, too. And I think that we could probably rely on Force's guys, too, a little bit if we can squirrel a little bit of information out of them if we have to."

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHANGES THIS YEAR, AS OPPOSED TO LAST YEAR? "The three- framed rail chassis is something that I'm a bit more nervous about, because we changed cars midway last year and that kind of threw us into a bit of a loop, not bad, but a little bit. And then after all that was said and done and we got a different tire. There were a lot of changes that went on and we seemed to adapt pretty well to all of them last year, but like I say, I think all of the rest of the teams have caught up, for a lack of better words, in terms of performance, but the weight changes that were made last year and the different tire that we had to run and all of the weird things that happened to us - now I think you're going to see the competition much more level so we're really going to have to be on our game. So that's where I'm hoping that aligned with Bob will help us and plus help him."

ECONOMIC TIMES ARE HITTING RACING, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE THE FUNNY CAR FIELD WILL BE FULL. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FUNNY CAR FIELD HEADING INTO THE YEAR? "Well, I think that last year we had a goal which when I said it I think everybody thought was ridiculous, but I still don't think that it's a dumb goal, and that's to qualify for every race. I mean that's our main focus first off. You're sure not racing on Sunday if you're not qualified, so we're going to try and qualify for every race first off, and like you say, based on the amount of cars out there, there were 20 good cars out there last year at every race. So, you're not going to see any team or any specific car that isn't ready to race on Sunday if they make the field. I don't care if it's one through 16, anywhere in that field, you're going to have a good race. I think we showed that a lot last year. With the economic times being so trying, maybe things would lighten up in Funny Car, but I don't think that you're going to see that. I think you're going to see the best racing that NHRA Drag Racing has ever offered to a fan and we're going to have the best cars to do it."

WHAT YOUR OPINION OF THE 1,000-FOOT RULE? "I like the 1,000-foot for the safety aspect of it, giving us another 300 feet to stop. I know we're kind of treading on our heritage there, but the cars have done nothing but get faster and faster and faster. John [Force] and Ford have spent a lot of time and money renovating that new three-rail car. We need to make sure that the tracks are available for us to do the best we can on them and still be safe, and quite frankly, some of the tracks weren't. And until they can find a way to make the shut down areas as safe as they can, I think the 1,000-foot is a no-brainer. Not only safety-wise, but financially for all the teams. You know it's still great side-by-side racing; I don't think the fans should be concerned. I know there's a lot of talk about it, but I really think they just need to sit back and enjoy the racing because the racing is even closer than it used to be."

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO DIFFERENT THIS YEAR SO THAT THIS YOU'RE THE ONE DRINKING THE CHAMPIONSHIP CHAMPAGNE? "Well, to tell you the truth, I don't think that we have to do anything different. We had a great car all year long; my guys did a terrific job working on it. I think the Mustang, again, will really help our cause and the alliance with the Tasca. And to have some technology that we've never seen in our life with being with Ford. So I think that is going to be a first step for us. And the second step, we just need to not screw up in the playoffs. That's all it was to it. I just had some bad luck there in the playoffs and my predecessor that won the thing really did a better job, so he deserved to win. He got the wins when he needed and he was hot when we were cold. Hopefully, we can just stay consistent like we were this year because I think that was our key last year, we were consistent all year long. We weren't the fastest guy, but boy, on Sunday if you made a mistake, we were right there beside you showing you what you shouldn't have done. So hopefully we can just show that consistency again and bring a trophy home."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson , Bob Tasca III