St. Louis: Wilkerson - Ford interview 2010-04-28

This Week in Ford Racing April 28, 2010 Tim Wilkerson, driver/owner of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car hails from Springfield, Ill., just 100 miles north of this weekend's NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series event at ...

This Week in Ford Racing
April 28, 2010

Tim Wilkerson, driver/owner of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car hails from Springfield, Ill., just 100 miles north of this weekend's NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series event at Gateway International Raceway. Wilkerson talks about racing at his home track and the season to date. Wilkerson earned his 14th career win this season at Gainesville and is seventh in series points.

TALK ABOUT RACING AT ST. LOUIS AND YOUR HOME TRACK. "Being so close to home, there are a people that I raced with forever. I bracket raced in this area since 1979, so I don't have Force's history of racing on the west coast in the fuel car, but all these people in this area have known me for 20 years. It's always good to see everybody in St. Louis, that's for sure. We have a huge contingent of LRS folks that come here because it is so close to home for them. I think Dick Levi has bought in the neighborhood of 1,200 tickets for this race. That's going to make the race exciting for them if we can do well this weekend. I'm excited to be so close to home and with all my LRS contingent there, I hope I can put our Mustang in the finals."

IS THERE ADDED PRESSURE RACING IN FRONT OF THAT MANY FRIENDS, FAMILY AND SPONSORS? "I don't get too wound up about the home track and all the people. I'm always just happy to be racing and when you're this close to home, maybe I'm more comfortable than less comfortable. I seem to do well at places close to home. Usually the track is conducive to my type of racing and hopefully this year it will be too."

WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY THE TRACK IS CONDUCIVE TO YOUR TYPE OF RACING? "I'm not sure, I just seem to do well at this track for some reason. I don't know if it's just the atmospheric conditions or the surrounds or the familiarity of it. I don't really know to tell you the truth."

THE LAST TIME FORD RACING CHECKED IN WITH YOU, IT WAS JUST AFTER YOUR GAINESVILLE WIN. WHAT'S NEW TO TIM WILKERSON IN THE LAST MONTH? "We're just going along status quo. We're going to run Daniel (Wilkerson's son) at Joliet next month. He's going to be in a Ford Mustang at that race. He's going to be in my last year's car, so we're hoping for some good results there too. We're trying to get that shake down a little bit and get him back again comfortable racing."

HOW IS THE NEW MUSTANG BODY TREATING YOU? "It seems that it runs much easier in the middle of the race track than any car that I've ever had. I thought last year's Mustang body was pretty good. So when Ford gives me something better, like they have done, I think that it shows that the car seems to run okay. We're not running as well as we'd like to run today. We've had some pretty bad racing draws over the last couple of races, so hopefully we can fix that this weekend."

THIS EARLY IN THE SEASON, YOU RACE ONE WEEKEND, THEN OFF FOR A WEEKEND. HOW DO YOU GET INTO A RHYTHM? "I work on the car every single day, so I'm around it constantly. I don't really get too far out of sync, I don't think. In 2008 when we did so well, we went 15 weeks in a row. I think that really does contribute to some consistency, not only with the driver, but with the tune-up and the crew members. Usually when we get going on these back-to-back-to-backs here that we're going to be hitting hard here in the next two weeks to 30 days, usually we end up shining at one of those events. I hope that's just because we do pay attention to everything that we're going before we get there. Nobody's job is unimportant. I try to keep the guys on their toes with that. That's why you don't really see our car go up there and leak or get shut off or do something wrong or blow up. We don't usually have those problems and that's what makes us a pretty good race car."

IN A FEW RACES YOU WILL REACH A MILESTONE - 300 RACES IN FUNNY CAR COMPETITION. "That's pretty good. I did not know that but happy to hear I'll reach 300. It doesn't seem like we've been racing that long. It seems like it was yesterday that I was getting my Nitro Funny Car license. You spend so much time working on your stuff, that the days are turning into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years and you don't even know it."

HAVE YOU SET ANY GOALS FOR THE WEEKEND OR COMING WEEKS? "We're learning more about our new body everyday and I hope that I can get into the warm weather races here and be a car like I was in '08 where maybe I can make better decisions on race day. I haven't been qualifying well enough in my opinion to do what I want to do. That's kind of my goals for the next three or four races - to get my qualifying mode back where I'm in the top five cars at the end of the weekend. I think that will make me a better car on race day."

-source: ford racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson