Tim Wilkerson - Ford interview

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Tim Wilkerson, Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang
Tim Wilkerson, Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

Tim Wilkerson, driver of the Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang, earned his third consecutive win in Seattle at the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways to continue the final-round streak for Ford Racing: A Ford Funny Car has been in every final round in the NHRA Full Throttle Series this year.

Wilkerson, a favorite in the pits, also nabbed his first No. 1 qualifier of the year.

TALK ABOUT THE WIN IN SEATTLE. “The car is really kind of coming around a little bit here and there. It’s not showing great signs of flash, but it’s been better and more consistent. And that’s kind of what we need to do. We really had a great car in Norwalk (Ohio), and Joliet (Illinois) too. We just raced the wrong people. We raced Bob (Tasca III) first round at Joliet and he made the second best run of the round and we made the third best. It might’ve been the other way around, but he beat me anyway. We’ve had a good car. We’re just trying to make sure we get all our ducks in a row and not make any mistakes. And I think we finally are starting to prove we can do that. Started at Sonoma, ended up at Seattle. The win there was kind of just the icing on the cake for the Western Swing. We ran good during the day, No. 1 qualifier, pretty special really.”

WHAT IS IT ABOUT SEATTLE THAT HELPS YOU WIN THERE? “I don’t know. I think that’s kind of ironic really. I’d like to tell you it’s something terrific I’m doing, but I really don’t think it is. I think it’s more simply the fact that it’s the third race of the Swing. I’m getting better and everybody else is kind of staying the same. Seems like three in a row, after the third one I do really well. If you remember last year the ones that I won were three in a row at Bristol then Norwalk. I won up at Bristol and up at Norwalk. Because we had run Englishtown, Bristol and Norwalk three weekends in a row. I don’t know what it is about that. I think there’s just some magic that goes on three races in a row there that I can’t really explain. The crew gets better. I get better. And it’s just like anything else you do every day. You do it every week in a row, before long you make better decisions as a tuner, you make better decisions as a driver and the crew does a better job as a crew.”

WILL THIS STREAK OF CONTINUALLY GETTING BETTER AND BETTER HELP TAKE YOU TO THE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS? IS IT SOMETHING YOU’RE THINKING OF LIKE THAT? “I’m thinking like that. It’s good for the team emotionally as we’re getting closer to the Countdown to the Championship to win some rounds all in a row. It’s really something that’s just good for you. It’s hard to explain, but I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. It just gives everybody a confidence or a cockiness that really helps everybody a lot. You could see that in Neff’s car as he was running good. You just make better decisions it seems like.”

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR TEAM. HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN WORKING TOGETHER? “I have two new guys this year. And the rest of them have been with me for six years. I think that’s another key point of our success. They are teaching the newer guys how we do things and the new guys are really doing a good job. We aren’t having any problems with them. We were missing a person the whole Western Swing too, which was not good. So the two races that we did well in, Tasca’s team actually came over and kind of helped us with little maintenance items that really helped out. Like packing parachutes, switching tires, looking over the body, things like that. So that was really a good thing. We lost that motor in Sonoma. A couple of them helped us change fire bottles and stuff like that. So they were a good extra hand this weekend. The One Ford team there was going a long way toward my benefit this weekend, believe me.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GET A LITTLE BIT OF REST BETWEEN THE WESTERN SWING AND THE U.S. NATIONALS AT INDIANAPOLIS? OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT’S ALREADY ON TOP OF YOU? “No, there’s some rest between Brainerd and Indy. We actually have a match race in there, something I’ve been doing for 10 years. So we’re going to do that little match race. And that’s in Cordova at the World Series of Drag Racing. It’s the single oldest drag racing event out there; it’s been held every year. It’s kind of a neat little deal we do every year. And it’s cool because a lot of fans don’t have the money to go to a national event, so a lot of them show up there at that little place. So it’s fun. Like I said, we’ll race Brainerd, Minn., Cordova, Indy, three weekends in a row. So if my mojo has anything working for it, maybe Indy will be a good one, see?”

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson
Tags ford, nhra, wilkerson