Tim Wilkerson Joliet Final Report

Route 66 Raceway

Breaks Elude Wilk Once Again

Anyone who has witnessed recent Funny Car history on the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle tour would not think to begrudge Tim Wilkerson the right to feel anything ranging from frustration to exasperation, but the Levi, Ray & Shoup tuner/driver is doing his level best to remain upbeat and positive as he continues to fly in the face of uncanny poor luck.

Tim Wilkerson
Tim Wilkerson

Photo by: Ted Rossino

For the second consecutive race, Wilk posted a better e.t. than his opponent, and in this case his 4.270-second run on a scorching hot Route 66 Raceway track was better than all but one of the 16 Funny Car competitors in the opening round, but again the popular Illinois native had to take his lumps, being edged out in the lights by mere inches. This time, it was Bob Tasca winning by half a fender with a 4.277. Only Mike Neff's 4.257 was quicker than Wilk's run, but the day was over early for the LRS squad.

"I'm tellin' ya, this can't go on forever and if we just keep our heads down and keep racing like this it's going to have to change," Wilkerson said. "For the second race in a row we just raced the wrong guy. The hole-shot side of it looks bad, I guess, but at both of these races it was more of a staging thing than a reaction time deal. I was in really shallow this time, and Bob did a good job leaving on time, so we got whupped.

"I guess we stopped by the Break Store on the way in today, but they were all out and we couldn't buy one. The truth remains the same, though, and that's about doing your best and putting your best effort on the board. We've been doing a lot of that lately, without getting rewarded for it, but the breaks have to come at some point. We can't keep hitting line drives that get caught, forever."

The set-up for another frustrating loss probably came in Q4 on Saturday night, when Wilk loaded it up and took a chance at a low number under the lights. He had just dominated the class with low e.t. of the session in Q3, and like most tuners he figured the final run was worth approaching with a "take a shot" attitude, but his LRS Ford overpowered the track and he slipped one spot on the ladder, creating the dreaded 8 vs. 9 match-up on raceday.

"It really doesn't matter who drives the other car when it's the eight versus nine pair, because you're obviously the two cars that are most closely matched in the whole round," Wilk said. "To have it be Bob and his guys, though, did make it a little worse because they felt just like we did, that they shouldn't have been that low on the sheet to begin with. I think we both ended up a few spots lower than we wanted, so we both had something to prove in round one.

"That run we made in Q3, a 4.20 right at the hottest part of the day, was one of our best runs of the year, and we've been putting some good ones together lately. We just overestimated the track a bit on the last one, Q4, and when I talked to a lot of the other teams after that last run it was pretty obvious that we weren't the only ones. It just wasn't as tight as you'd expect, under the lights like that. So, that pushed us down a little and we ended up where we did, running the wrong guy again. We'll go to Denver in two weeks and see if we can't figure out a way to run someone else."

Much like the Norwalk race, two weeks earlier, the early loss on Sunday was the lowlight of an otherwise successful weekend. The LRS Shelby Mustang ran well and qualified solidly, that final qualifying run notwithstanding, and this time Wilk and his team hosted a bevy of Levi, Ray & Shoup employees, executives, and clients.

"This is the new home race for LRS, so Dick Levi and about half the company came up for it, and even though we didn't get a round win for them, much less the Wally we wanted, I do know that they all had a great time," said Wilk. "It's great mojo for us when the pit is stuffed with people who root for us so hard, and so loyally, and it was pretty electric in there on Saturday. They knew that afternoon run was a good one, and they were cheering for us like a football crowd when we got back and serviced the car. You can't buy that kind of support, and we sure loved it."

By: team wikerson racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson , Mike Neff
Tags chicago, ford, funny car, joliet, nhra, route 66 raceway, wilkerson