WILK SITS SIXTH AFTER FIRST DAY OF 4-WIDE Tim Wilkerson came up just short of a strong full lap on his first qualifying run in Charlotte, and then came up a bit shorter on a second lap which had been delayed until the evening by pesky afternoon...
WILK SITS SIXTH AFTER FIRST DAY OF 4-WIDE
Tim Wilkerson came up just short of a strong full lap on his first qualifying run in Charlotte, and then came up a bit shorter on a second lap which had been delayed until the evening by pesky afternoon rain showers. Still, Wilk did manage a solid 4.088 on the first run, and that time was notable because it was quicker than the best pass he put up during his Gainesville victory just two weeks ago. The math added up to a No. 5 spot after the first 4-wide session, before his engine damaging 4.134 in Q2 caused him to slip into the No. 6 spot overnight.
The spectacle of 4-wide racing kept the crowd excited early in the day, but drizzle and dropping temperatures put the show well behind schedule, and many in the large opening-day crowd simply couldn't last once the sun went down. They weren't alone, as the cars and crews also had a hard time dealing with track temperatures in the 50s and ambient temperatures that felt much colder than that.
"Well, where do we start? We had a good driver's meeting this morning, and we went over all this staging stuff because it's all very different than what we're used to, and like trained chimps we kind of get into our routines over the years and different procedures can make us stutter," Wilkerson said. "I really think by the second session we were all getting a good handle on the blue bulbs, that represented the cars in the far lanes, and our normal yellow bulbs for our lanes, and it all went pretty smoothly. It went a little better than I thought, actually, so that's all good.
"On our first lap, it dropped some cylinders way down there short of the finish line, and that probably cost us a couple of hundredths. When we got back here, I saw the burst panel opened up on the manifold, and as best as I can tell the thing might have just failed. When they blow open because of an engine or blower problem, you lose all your power at once, but we dropped a hole, then another one, then another one, all within a second there, so I'm thinking it just split open on us. If that's the case, we're probably lucky to be where we are, because that could've happened way earlier in the run.
"On the second lap, the track temperature was really hitting rock bottom, so you had to jump on it pretty hard not to shake out there. It just never seemed to have enough life in it, though, and then it broke a piston on us. We did the same thing on one lap in Gainesville, so we have to figure out what's going on with that cylinder head or just stop using it, because heads aren't as valuable as full laps out here. We'll see how it goes tomorrow."