Wilkerson Follows Father's Footsteps to Winner's Circle Second-Generation Racer Drives His Chevy to First Career Top Alcohol Funny Car Win BAYTOWN, Texas, April 1, 2007 - Although rain hampered his qualifying efforts at this weekend's 20th...
Wilkerson Follows Father's Footsteps to Winner's Circle
Second-Generation Racer Drives His Chevy to First Career Top Alcohol Funny Car Win
BAYTOWN, Texas, April 1, 2007 - Although rain hampered his qualifying efforts at this weekend's 20th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Daniel Wilkerson should still be in good spirits following his first career win in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Top Alcohol Funny Car at last weekend's NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at Memphis Motorsports Park. Daniel has one of the best mentors he could have, his father, NHRA Funny Car veteran Tim Wilkerson, and combines a partial race schedule this season with Team Wilkerson Racing with his pursuit of a college degree in accounting.
The 18-year-old college freshman from Springfield, Ill., qualified his Chevy No. 2 at 5.677 seconds at 255.24 mph to Steve Harker's No. 1 qualifying effort in his Chevy Monte Carlo at 5.642 seconds and 256.60 mph. Wilkerson defeated Ron Morrison's Chevy in Round 1 and Kebin Kinsley in the semifinals to face Harker in the final. Wilkerson defeated Harker from Gainesville, Ga., with an elapsed time of 5.894 at 251.91 mph to Harker's 6.285 mph at 195.56 mph for his first career Top Alcohol Funny Car win and an early birthday present - he turns 19 tomorrow.
"It was cool, mostly for the guys," Daniel Wilkerson said. "They've been working so hard all way along and they come such far distances to go to these races, and I've never been able to do anything for them, so it was cool to get the 'Wally.' We tried to step it up on Saturday (qualifying), trying to see if we could go a little quicker than what we did on Friday night, but we couldn't do it, couldn't do it, so we were pretty confident on Sunday we'd meet up with Harker in the final. Dad left on Saturday night so he was calling us after every round.
"Keeping up with school can be pretty tough with three races in a row like this, but besides that it's pretty cool. A lot of the other kids go to school and work at the same time, so it's pretty much the same thing."
Tim Wilkerson has five career NHRA Funny Car wins on his resume, including a win at the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis in 2003.
"Unfortunately, I wasn't there in Memphis to see Daniel's first win," Wilkerson said, "but I was constantly on the phone with them and trying to help as best I could. We're just trying to bring him along slowly. This is the first time he's run with a clutch because he ran an automatic last year, but he's done a nice job. He's a good kid, but I can't take any credit for that. He gets that from his mother."
Wilkerson will be looking to match his son's victory in today's eliminations for the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals. He is qualified 12th and will face Jim Head in Round 1.
-credit: gm racing