WILK EYES TURNAROUND AT THE 'PLEX ENNIS, Tex. (September 21, 2010) -- The Dallas Mavericks' big man, Dirk Nowitzki, does it with powerful regularity. The Dallas Stars goalie, Kari Lehtonen, will try to limit the number he gives up. ...
WILK EYES TURNAROUND AT THE 'PLEX
ENNIS, Tex. (September 21, 2010) -- The Dallas Mavericks' big man, Dirk Nowitzki, does it with powerful regularity. The Dallas Stars goalie, Kari Lehtonen, will try to limit the number he gives up. Trampolines in suburban Dallas-area backyards do it all the time. This weekend, at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Super Start Batteries Fall Nationals, Tim Wilkerson will try to do it himself. The common word? Rebound.
To bounce back from a rough start to the 2010 Countdown, Wilkerson needs to put a first-round exit and a DNQ not only in the rearview but completely out of his mind when he takes to the track in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby Mustang Funny Car this week, at the fabled Texas Motorplex, just south of "Big D" in Ennis, Tex. With four races remaining in the playoffs, Wilk is now 163 points behind John Force, who leads the way. It's a mammoth mountain to climb, but the rounds remain to make it possible.
"It's nine rounds, as it sits right now, but with the bonus points those guys rack up all the time, it could be 10 pretty easily," Wilkerson said. "The truth is, though, that if you're going to start the playoffs like we just did, the damage isn't as bad as it could be. We started the thing 70 points out of first, and now we're 160-something. There have been a lot of upsets at the first two races, and if you add all that up it means no one has pulled away and sealed the deal yet.
While the math still works, Wilkerson is realist enough to know how tough the task will be. Still, he's willing to head into the Dallas event with a championship mindset, refusing to toss in the towel just yet.
"I think you have to admit that Dallas is the big one for us, right now, if we want to think in terms of the championship," Wilk said. "We need to have a really good weekend, and by that I mean we need to probably get to the final round or win the race if we want to have even a distant chance. And on top of that, we'll need some help because some of those teams ahead of us need to lose. Right now, we're headed to Texas with the thought of winning the race and we'll play it that way. If we come out of there still in the position we're in now, you have to start thinking about trying new stuff and testing on the fly for the rest of the season.
"That doesn't mean we won't still be trying to win, don't get me wrong. You might try new clutch set-ups or a new blower at any time during the season, but you never go to the starting line thinking you don't care if you win or not. We always want to win. The only thing I'm thinking about right now is those 10 rounds we probably need. That's a lot of rounds in four races, but we're going to Dallas with the idea of picking up three or four of them on some people, and then the strategy gets a little more realistic. If we can bite off a big chunk, we have a chance."
Visiting the Texas Motorplex Winner's Circle during the Countdown is not a foreign concept for Wilkerson. He did just that in 2008, while making his most serious bid for a championship, and his feel for the track is a good one. Concrete for its entire length, the Motorplex surface has been known to provide big numbers and huge competition when the weather cooperates. For Wilk, however, the word "cooperate" might mean typical Texas heat, rather than cool and fast conditions.
"Right now, they're calling for 90 degrees every day we're there, and that might not be a bad thing for us," Wilkerson said. "The Motorplex track is very good, but if it gets hot it will act like just about any track, and then things get tossed in the air like they did in Charlotte. You put these 8,000-horsepower cars on a 125-degree track, and you'll see a lot of upsets. We've usually had a good car on hot tracks, so maybe that equalizer can help us out. Either way, we'll be there to get this LRS Shelby back where it belongs, and that's in the Winner's Circle."
The dictionary defines "rebound" as "to spring back, to recover." Perhaps after this weekend, the definition might also include the note "See Tim Wilkerson, Texas Motorplex, 2010."