Wilkerson Pleases Home Town Crowd With Top Spot in Funny Car Kurt Johnson Vying For 2nd Consecutive No. 1 in Pro Stock MADISON, Ill., June 24, 2005 - Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson was able to keep the home town crowd happy by driving his Chevy...
Wilkerson Pleases Home Town Crowd With Top Spot in Funny Car
Kurt Johnson Vying For 2nd Consecutive No. 1 in Pro Stock
MADISON, Ill., June 24, 2005 - Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson was able to keep the home town crowd happy by driving his Chevy Monte Carlo to the provisional No. 1 spot in today's first day of qualifying for this weekend's 9th annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. The Springfield, Ill., native overcame the high heat and humidity and powered his way to the top of the Funny Car ladder with a run of 4.863 seconds at 308.71 mph. Tommy Johnson Jr. was second in his Chevy Monte Carlo with an elapsed time of 4.887 seconds and 318.32 mph.
"The track's pretty good and I'm sure you'll see better times tomorrow night," Wilkerson said. "Hopefully we can go quicker. It would be real neat for us to do well here. I don't test here at all, but I'm very familiar with the track because my son Daniel races here all the time in his Super Comp altered. We know this track real well.
"I'm real proud of my team. We were hoping for a better first half of the season but they haven't given up at all. In fact, they're working harder. It's nice to give them a little reward like this. Our next task is to figure out the fuel system because you know it's gonna spin the tires Sunday in Round 1 because we start at 4:30 p.m., so you have to figure out how to make it weak enough to get down the track. That's what we'll work on tomorrow."
Gary Scelzi was third in a Dodge and Del Worsham, Funny Car's winner last week at Englishtown (N.J.), qualified fourth in his Chevy Monte Carlo with an elapsed time of 4.897 seconds at 312.13 mph. Points leader John Force is qualified 13th.
"When we went up there, I was actually thinking more in terms of a nice and safe 4.95, or something like that," Worsham said. "It was so brutal out here today, and the first session was just a test of wills and endurance, so I was thinking we'd just get a decent number on the board and go from there. But, the track really started to come around and by the time we ran it was really good. The track preparation was just fantastic, considering the conditions.
"By the time we ran, I was more dialed in to thinking about keeping it straight and milking every thousandth out of the e.t.. I'm very happy with the 4.897, and I think tomorrow night during the late run we can run quicker. It will be tough when the sun is up, but tomorrow night should be pretty fun."
Kurt Johnson is looking to make it two No. 1 qualifiers in a row as he claimed the provisional top spot in Pro Stock by driving his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt to an elapsed time of 6.750 seconds and 204.14 mph. Johnson posted his first No. 1 qualifier of the season last week at Englishtown. Kurt's teammate and father Warren Johnson, runner-up last week at Englishtown, was close behind in second in his GM Performance Parts Pontiac. He had an elapsed time of 6.758 seconds and 203.46 mph.
"We were very disappointed with what happened in Englishtown," Kurt said. "We had a great car Friday and Saturday but when we got out there Sunday it was like a totally different car. The tires were spinning every round and another race slipped through our fingers. I said, 'I'm tired of this, we're going testing,' so that's what we did. We hit the track in Atlanta Tuesday and it was 94 degrees outside and 130 on the track, so we really came in here prepared. I didn't know how it would react tonight when it cooled off a little bit, but the car went right down that left lane and put up the number."
Summit Racing teammates Greg Anderson and Jason Line qualified their Pontiacs third and fourth on the grid, respectively. Anderson had an elapsed time of 6.762 seconds at 203.68 mph and Line, a back-to-back winner at Chicago and Englishtown, had a time of 6.777 seconds and 202.85 mph.
In Top Fuel, Englishtown winner Larry Dixon continues to stay hot as he claimed the provisional pole with a run of 4.614 seconds at 321.88 mph. Cory McClenathan qualified sixth with an e.t. of 4.694 seconds at 322.73 mph.