WILKERSON DOUBLY EXCITED ABOUT 4-WIDE RACING IN CHARLOTTE SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (January 21, 2010) -- Today's groundbreaking announcement regarding the professional format at the inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, to be held March 25-28 at zMAX...
WILKERSON DOUBLY EXCITED ABOUT 4-WIDE RACING IN CHARLOTTE
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (January 21, 2010) -- Today's groundbreaking announcement regarding the professional format at the inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, to be held March 25-28 at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, has the racing world buzzing and Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson doubly excited in anticipation of the landmark event. Professional classes at the race, the fourth of 23 on the Full Throttle tour, will run four-wide throughout qualifying and eliminations, giving fans a uniquely breathtaking and ground-pounding experience.
Wilkerson was part of the four-wide exhibition staged at last year's Carolinas Nationals at zMAX, and he enjoyed the massive spectacle of 32,000-horsepower worth of Funny Cars leaving the line simultaneously. Now, he is also looking forward to making amends for an off-pace showing during that single four-car lap.
"The whole thing was a gigantic hit, with the fans and the racers, and it was really fun to be a part of it," Wilkerson said. "Unfortunately, we missed on our tune-up a little, over there in one of the two lanes that hadn't been run on, and we came in last. It's neat to watch the video of four Funny Cars going down the track, and every time I see it I think it's special effects instead of the real thing, but it's no fun to see the Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby Mustang bringing up the rear. Now we have a chance to make up for that, and this time it will count.
"Side-by-side Funny Car racing is pretty impressive on any track, but going four-wide just doubles everything up and it's kind of hard to believe. Maybe somebody ought to talk to Doublemint gum about this. You know the old slogan, double your pleasure, double your fun. This is going to be pretty intense, with points on the line, and it will be interesting to think about the strategies and how we can advance and earn as many Full Throttle points as possible."
The unique racing format will feature four-wide qualifying throughout Friday and Saturday, and a creative four-wide eliminations ladder on Sunday. In the first round of eliminations, the 16-car field will be split into four groups, with the winner and the first runner-up in each four-car race moving on to the second round. A pair of four-car groups will then race in round two, with each winner and first runner-up again advancing, to create a winner-take-all final round, four-wide across all lanes of Bruton Smith's "Bellagio of drag strips" near Charlotte.
Sportsman racers at the event will only run in the standard two-wide format, but to make the four lanes as equal as possible those racers will run some of their sessions in the two right lanes and some in the two left lanes. With all four pro qualifying sessions being four-wide, it is anticipated that all four lanes will be equally consistent for Sunday's eliminations.
"It's going to be very different, and I'm sure the fans will go nuts," Wilkerson said. "Last year, no one was really sure how well it would work or how the teams would coordinate staging and being ready at the same time, but the teams just kind of naturally did it and it all went off like clockwork. I was in the car, obviously, so I couldn't experience what it looked like for the fans, but everything I've heard tells me it was off the charts. This is going to be a pretty neat deal, and kudos to Bruton Smith and NHRA for thinking outside the box to make this happen. We're already looking forward to it."