Tim Wilkerson Denver Final Report

Bandimere Speedway

Wilk Leaves Denver In 10th, After Up & Down Weekend

It was an "up and down" theme for Tim Wilkerson, during all three days of racing in Denver, but in the end the popular Illinois driver left Thunder Mountain with the first step in his overall plan accomplished. For the first time this year, Wilk is in the Full Throttle Top 10 on the points sheet, with four races to go before the Countdown playoffs begin.

Tim Wilkerson
Tim Wilkerson

Photo by: Ted Rossino

As stated above, each day of racing on Thunder Mountain featured one very good lap and one not very good one, for Wilk and his Levi, Ray & Shoup team. On Friday, he was 3rd-best in the heat during Q1, but smoked the tires during the night run. On Saturday, he was again 3rd-best on the first run, before smoking the tires in Q4. The sum of that accomplishment was a No. 10 spot on the ladder and two precious bonus points.

On Sunday, Wilk was matched up with Johnny Gray, who held the 10th spot in the standings coming into this race. For once, the chance to move up in the standings was in Wilk's hands, and in this case he knew he controlled his own destiny.

"We've all done those mental gyrations with the points over the years, where you look at the ladder and think 'Well, if we win, and this guy loses, and this guy red lights, and this guy doesn't show up, we can move up a spot.'," Wilk said. "This time, the guy we were chasing was the guy we were racing, and we were one point out of 10th when the round started. We didn't need help from other teams, red lights, or the weather. We had to do it ourselves."

Wilk did just that, running as the seventh pair in round one after an eternity of a Top Fuel session allowed the tension to build. His LRS Shelby Mustang left hard, stayed running hard, and pulled away during the back half of the run to click the beams with a 4.390 to take the win. Gray posted a 4.625 in the right lane.

It didn't get any easier from that point forward, as Robert Hight as the opponent in round two. It was, however, Wilk's first trip beyond the first round since Englishtown during the first week of June. Hight had disposed of Todd Simpson in the opening round, with low e.t. of the stanza at 4.286.

Hight was away with a slight jump at the tree, and never trailed in this drag race. Wilk's LRS Ford made a valiant charge, but a dropped cylinder at about the 2-second mark made it impossible to track down Hight, who tripped the beams with a strong 4.289, nearly as stout as his opening round run. Wilk improved slightly, recording a 4.356 in defeat.

"That's a pretty darned good team over there, and we knew what we had to run if we were going to beat them straight up," Wilk said. "A 4.28 was the target, but we didn't have much of a chance running on seven. It's easy to drop cylinders up here, and it's easy to spin the tires when you get out there close to half-track. We did pretty good, but they didn't stumble and we came up short.

"Still, though, you have to take it one step at a time and at least we got that one big step done today. That run felt a little different than they have recently, in a good way. There was a lot riding on it, and it felt good to line up for the race and come away with one. Now we have to build on this and keep winning some rounds or it will all turn around on us in a hurry."

In addition to the racing, Wilk and his team also had a huge weekend in terms of LRS involvement. Dick Levi attended the event on Saturday, and he brought along about 250 of his best friends, family members, and colleagues for a fun-filled day at the race track. It was the single-biggest crowd ever to fill the team's hospitality area.

"That was great, to have Dick and all those people with us on Saturday," Wilkerson said. "They all had smiles from ear to ear, and that means so much to us. I can't even imagine where I'd be in terms of racing if it weren't for Dick and all the people at LRS. They're great folks, they support us through thick and thin, and we all benefit from the relationship."

With Denver being the first leg of the 2011 Western Swing, there's no time for rest in the coming days. The team will head directly to Sonoma for next weekend's race, and then will head up the west coast to Seattle the following week. Where Wilk stands in the points at that time will be the key, but a big step was taken on Thunder Mountain.

By: team wilkerson racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson , Johnny Gray , Robert Hight , Todd Simpson
Tags bandimere, denver, funny car, nhra, wilkerson