Sonoma: Wilkerson - Ford interview 2010-07-14

This Week in Ford Racing July 14, 2010 Tim Wilkerson, driver and owner of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car heads to Sonoma this weekend for the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals fresh off back-to-back wins in Norwalk, OH, and ...

This Week in Ford Racing
July 14, 2010

Tim Wilkerson, driver and owner of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car heads to Sonoma this weekend for the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals fresh off back-to-back wins in Norwalk, OH, and Seattle, WA. As the defending winner of last year's Sonoma race, Wilkerson looks to extend his winning streak.

YOU'RE HEADING TO SONOMA THIS WEEKEND. LAST YEAR YOU WON SEATTLE AND SONOMA BACK-TO-BACK. DO YOU THINK YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN THIS YEAR? "We have a good chance of doing it here. We have a pretty decent car lately. The track at Sonoma is a little bit comparable to the track in Seattle, so as long as we get to race the right people like we did last weekend we'll be alright."

YOU WENT INTO SEATTLE AS THE DEFENDING RACE WINNER. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO DEFEND A RACE WIN A YEAR LATER? "Usually that's pretty difficult because the situations always seem to be a little bit different the second time you get there than they were the year before. I just think that what happened to us there was that the weather changed back and forth and made it difficult for everybody there racing. You really didn't think that anybody had a big up on anybody else. As long as you were consistent, which we've been fortunate that our car has been really consistent lately, you were okay."

SPEAKING OF CONSISTENT YOU'VE BROUGHT IT ON STRONG THESE LAST COUPLE OF RACES. YOU WERE RUNNER-UP IN BRISTOL AND WON THE LAST TWO RACES, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO KEEP THAT GOING? "We just have to stay focused on keeping our parts consistent, keeping the guys focused on doing their job. What usually happens is that you get in a kind of a small funk after you've done well a couple of times. You get a little bit complacent maybe, thinking that things are going your way, but we do a lot of testing when we're at these races. We did that Saturday there at Seattle. My guys after Saturday were like 'Boss, we're going to do terrible tomorrow. We smoked the tires on both runs today.' That's the scenario that I run into from time to time. You'll probably see us do that again in Sonoma because Saturday is about the only day you can try new things. Sometimes the new things work, and sometimes they don't. Most of the time though, I'm trying to find the edge of where my car will run. I kind of look a little bit dumb on Saturday sometimes, but if I get it right, I'll look like the hero. You never know how things will go. I just think we need to stay focused on keeping all of our parts in a pile and make sure we don't make any mistakes, because the time frame you have to run in anymore just seems to be less and less. In Norwalk when we won there, we ran first round at 1:02 pm and we ran the finals at 4:04 pm. That means we had four hours to take our car apart and put it back together for four runs and that's pretty tight racing. That's my only worry, that when you go to start your car and something is wrong, you won't have time to fix it. I get with my guys and I put them all in a huddle and I say we have to stay sharp and we have to stay focused on doing our job so that when we do start our car everything works."

YOU MADE A BIG JUMP IN THE POINTS. YOU WENT FROM NINTH TO FIFTH IN THREE RACES. DO YOU FEEL WITH THE COUNTDOWN SO CLOSE AHEAD OF YOU THAT YOU ARE PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME? "Sure. The beginning of the year we did a little bit of testing too and that kind of really threw me a little bit out of my game. I think this is the time to get yourself together and if we can be in the top five in Indy, I'll be real happy with that. That's my goal to be number one and I don't think that's unattainable. We still have three races left. John [Force] and Robert [Hight] are right up there in the top and if we can go some rounds and they get beat early, there's a possibility we could be in first place by the time we get to Indy. That's always a goal, but it's not a necessity by any means because the Countdown puts us closer to each other as soon as we get there in Indy. We usually have a really good car at Indianapolis too and, to tell you the truth, I'm really getting excited about our chances for the Countdown and about our chances for the championship."

YOU SOUND EXCITED. "My wife even told me that yesterday. She said it's always so much fun sitting up there, in what I call the Cuckoo's Nest [motorhome lounge], with me because she can always tell the better we run the more confident I get."

FORD HAS BEEN SO DOMINANT THIS YEAR IN THE NHRA AND YOU HAVE BEEN A KEY PART OF THAT SUCCESS. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE A PART OF THAT? "Robert [Hight], John [Force], Ashley [Force Hood] and Bob [Tasca] have really started the momentum for us this year, especially with John winning all of those races. I kind of bounced in the middle there and caught one in the center of all that. To look at the standings and to see how dominant we've been it's really been very exciting to be a part of all of that. I'm glad I'm not driving some other kind of vehicle. I think that it makes a difference in my attitude and I think it makes a difference in my team's attitude. They're all excited about it."

-source: ford racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson