SOLID LINEUP GIVES WILKERSON CONFIDENCE LAS VEGAS (April 13, 2010) -- For Levi, Ray & Shoup Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson, the concept of comparing NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing to other "stick and ball" sports is a confusing proposition. ...
SOLID LINEUP GIVES WILKERSON CONFIDENCE
LAS VEGAS (April 13, 2010) -- For Levi, Ray & Shoup Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson, the concept of comparing NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing to other "stick and ball" sports is a confusing proposition. Like golf, drag racing is a sport in which each participant simply does his or her best, without the ability to play defense or otherwise impact the performance of the opposition. Like football, it's a ballet of coordinated plays executed by well-trained players with specific duties to perform and positions to play. Like basketball, hockey, and baseball, the sport features a long and demanding season, and that marathon aspect of the campaign makes thoughts of going undefeated, or even avoiding losing streaks, unheard of. It is all of those things, and more.
Like all of the above with the exception of golf, it is also a team sport and all team sports feature one consistent fact: A solid lineup that comes to play will take you a long way in your quest for success. Wilkerson has that solid lineup, starting with the human players, otherwise known as his crew, but also extending to the equipment, his LRS Shelby Mustang. That solid lineup means he knows he'll be in contention at the start of every weekend, but the "no defense" part of the sport also means he can't be assured that good performance will provide good results.
"We really do have a good team, where everyone pulls their weight and knows their jobs, so that's not just a positive for the team it's also a weight off my shoulders," Wilkerson said. "With me tuning the car and driving it, I'd have a lot less time to study the data and think about the next lap if I felt like I had to babysit the crew or watch over their shoulders, so it's good to know I've got a dedicated group in the pit, handling everything.
"As for the car, it's doing exactly what we want it to do, and even though we've gone out in the second round at the last two races it's not because we're not performing. That's the golf part of the story, I guess. We won Gainesville running great, but we pretty much ran just as strong in Charlotte and Houston and we only won one round at both. When you shoot a birdie and the other guy knocks in an eagle, you played good golf but you lost the hole. That's kind of what happened to us at the last two races. With this car and this team, though, I feel like it's just a matter of time before we get back to the Winner's Circle."
The two eagles that knocked Wilkerson off the perch in the last two events were actually three such shots in two rounds of racing. Running four-wide in round two at Charlotte, Wilk paced his foursome in terms of e.t., but Ron Capps and John Force each strapped huge lights on the tree and won with slower times. This past weekend in Houston, Wilkerson won on a holeshot himself, in the opening round, but then ran very well in round two only to be felled by Tony Pedregon's stupendous light. A couple of nice birdies, trumped by eagles.
Wilkerson now turns his attention to this weekend's SummitRacing.com Nationals at the beautiful Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he'll hit the ground running and hope his team's solid play will earn a more fitting result.
"With this car, I don't see us having any prolonged slumps, where we look like knuckleheads who are lost and can't figure out how to race anymore," Wilkerson said. "Our only real slump of this season was the first two races when we were running the '09 chassis. Once we got this car out of the box, in Gainesville, we've had a real good handle on it and we're just following our normal tuning methods. No tricks up our sleeve, just a good handle on the numbers and how to make the adjustments, and a lot of that comes from my guys, who give me great input on track conditions and how that's going to alter our set-up. They also bolt the thing together right, time after time, and you need that consistency to make the tune-up work.
" All we can do is keep plugging away and keep doing what we're doing. We'd like to qualify a little better, and that might give us a little boost going into round one. We've been a bit stuck in this rut where we peck away at it all weekend, but end up right in the middle of the field. I just don't like taking big shots at the track early in qualifying, because if you overpower it and don't make it, the pressure starts to really mount on you. Our style is more oriented toward making a nice solid opening lap, and then try to improve every session and every round. We just need to get that process going a little quicker, maybe. Other than that, we just race the track anyway, so some days that works and some days you get spanked. That's why this is drag racing and not any of those other sports."
With this lineup and this car, Wilk will never be far from contention. When he arrives at the race track he has a solid chance to win, and as the owner/driver/tuner of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford, he can't ask for much more than that.
-source: Team Wilkerson Racing