Tim Wilkerson Saturday report

Gainesville Gatornationals

EXHALE... SATURDAY A MUCH BETTER DAY FOR WILK

Tim Wilkerson doing a burnout in his Levi, Ray & Sharp Ford Mustang
Tim Wilkerson doing a burnout in his Levi, Ray & Sharp Ford Mustang

Photo by: Ted Rossino

Tim Wilkerson was about at his wits' end on Friday night, after his Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby Mustang simply refused to cooperate on either lap that day. Staring at computer data that not only looked faulty, but also seemed impossible, he was flummoxed in his desire to straighten out his car. After some consultation with trusted allies, the crazy picture finally began to edge into focus late in the evening, and by the time Wilk went to bed he at least felt the security of knowing he'd made progress. How much progress remained to be seen, but things at least looked to be on the right track.

As it turned out, Saturday's first lap was a huge step in the right direction, despite the fact some nibbled valves slowed the LRS at the top end. The 4.165 safely moved him into the race field, and it gave him a baseline to tune from on the final pass. On that run, as the sun began to set in Gainesville, Wilk powered to a 4.131 and jumped up to the 9th spot, after having slipped as far as 13th by the time he fired the motor. It was his best pass of the season, and an even larger stride in the right direction.

"She's getting there, that's for sure," Wilkerson said. "We finally unscrambled the riddle late last night, and got some electrical stuff sorted out. I figured the car would run more like it should, but you still have to be able to go from end to end if you want to qualify so it's not like we were overconfident, by a long shot. On the first run, it just ate up those valves a little, but it was so much more predictable and so much faster than any run we've made this year. That was enough to almost make me smile.

"It was actually a little slower early on the last one, but it picked it up pretty hard at the top end and kept all eight lit. To go from being so lost last night to having a pretty good handle on it right now is a big leap, trust me. I'm not going to bother kicking myself for not figuring it out until last night, because the whole picture just didn't come into focus until then. Now we have it the way it should be, and we have a race car again."

From the No. 9 spot, Wilk will race Jeff Arend in the first round. That's a replay of the first round here last year, which Wilk used to start a trip all the way to the Winner's Circle.

-source: twr

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Series NHRA
Tags funny car, gatornationals, nhra, wilkerson

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