Dan Wilkerson ...
Dan Wilkerson #1 Nitro Funny Car Qualifier at Motor City Nationals
Scott Palmer (Top Fuel), Kenny Lang (Pro Modified), Dale Brand (Alcohol Funny Car) and Jeff Dobbins (Pro Stock) set the pace at Milan Dragway
MILAN, Mich. (March 24, 2008) -- Dan Wilkerson (Springfield, Ill.) has made quite a splash in his Nitro Funny Car debut. The son of current NHRA Nitro Funny Car points leader Tim Wilkerson set a provisional IHRA world record during Friday's qualifying session with a 4.831 pass at 316.01 mph. Despite failing to back up the record, Wilkerson held on to the #1 qualifying spot heading into Sunday's elimination rounds.
Wilkerson had no idea he had the provisional record in his pocket when he made his Saturday qualifying hits. His Levi, Ray & Shoup '07 Impala, the same car his father drives in NHRA competition, went into tire shake at about the 100-foot mark in his Saturday qualifying pass.
"No, I did not know that to tell you the truth," he said about the provisional world record. "We were planning on running in the low 80's on that run so I was a little surprised when I went into tire shake. That would be cool tomorrow if we could back that thing up. That would make an excellent weekend...not a bad debut."
To back up his provisional record Wilkerson will have to run a 4.879 during Sunday's elimination rounds.
Scott Palmer (Marionville, MO) posted a 4.597 at 317.49 mph during the Friday evening qualifying session, a number that stood up against all comers Saturday to give him his first career #1 qualifying spot. Palmer will square off against Bobby Lagana Jr. (Scarsdale, N.Y.) in the first round of eliminations Sunday.
"We have a pretty consistent can and it's working," Palmer said. "The crew guys are doing great and we're at least confident the car will do its part tomorrow as long as we get it bolted together right. The car is repeating. It's just like a bracket car as long as we get it bolted together right."
Current points leader Spencer Massey (Fort Worth, Tex.) ended up fourth on the qualifying sheet. The 25-year-old Top Fuel rookie will look to remain undefeated in IHRA competition this season Sunday, starting with a first-round tussle with Chris Karamesines (Chicago, Ill.).
Kenny Lang (Grande Pointe, Manitoba) and Scott Cannon Jr. (Lyman, S.C.) put on a show for the capacity crowd at Milan Dragway. The duo was the final pair of cars down the track in the Saturday evening Pro Modified qualifying session and they combined to claim both Milan Dragway track records...Lang grabbing the ET record with a 5.958 and Cannon claiming the speed record with a 240.77 pass. The pair finished 1-2 on the qualifying sheet as well, with Lang claiming his first #1 qualifying spot of the season.
"The car is going down the track right now, it's just awesome and consistent," Lang said. "This car is really hot right now. I have a great Tim McAmis chassis, excellent horsepower from Al Billes and a really good crew. You need all those components to have a contending car and that's what we think we have."
Jeff Dobbins (Wilmington, N.C.) was the only Torco Pro Stocker to dip into the sub-6.30 range when he claimed the #1 qualifying position with a 6.294 pass at 222.40 mph Saturday evening. That pass broke his own track ET record and put Dobbins and his '06 Escort on top of the qualifying sheet for the first time this season. He also became the fifth member of the Jerry Haas Race Cars 6.20's Club, an exclusive club honoring the first eight Pro Stock drivers to break the 6.30 barrier in sanctioned IHRA competition.
"It was a great run...we've been waiting for that for quite a while," Dobbins said of his sizzling Saturday evening pass. "It was just a perfect run. The car was smooth, I got through all the gears; we were just tickled to get that one."
The Torco Pro Stock field in Milan was historically tough. In fact, it marked the first time in IHRA history the bump spot fell below the 6.40 mark. Trevor Eman, from Pos Chiquito, Aruba, ended up on the bump spot with a 6.391/220.58 pass. The previous quickest bump spot was a 6.401 at the 2007 President's Cup Nationals in Budds Creek, Md.
Dobbins will be ready for Sunday's elimination rounds.
"We're looking forward to tomorrow and this was our first #1 qualifier in quite a while," Brand said. "We're looking forward to starting on top of the pack."
Dale Brand made a strong statement during Saturday evening's qualifying session, clocking a 5.654/245.90 pass to jump past Paul Noakes and claim the #1 qualifying position in the Alcohol Funny Car class.
"We love Milan, Michigan," Brand said. "This track and the people here have always treated us very good. It's an awesome racing facility and we're glad to be here. The weather is going to be beautiful and we're looking forward to a great race day tomorrow."
Brand will square off with Larry Dobbs, the #5 qualifier, in the first round of eliminations Sunday.
The IHRA Motor City Nationals presented by GM Performance Division and Heritage Newspapers will conclude with final eliminations Sunday, May 25. The first session of professional eliminations will start at 11:00am, a session that will include Pro Stock and Pro Modified. Final eliminations for the rest of the classes will begin at noon with finals scheduled to kick off at 4:30pm.