WEATHER OR NOT, WILK WILL RACE FROM 10th SPOT Mother Nature wreaked havoc on the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Saturday, but as bad as it was on competitors, officials, and spectators, Tim Wilkerson was part of a small group of Funny...
WEATHER OR NOT, WILK WILL RACE FROM 10th SPOT
Mother Nature wreaked havoc on the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Saturday, but as bad as it was on competitors, officials, and spectators, Tim Wilkerson was part of a small group of Funny Car drivers who all got the very short end of a very soggy stick.
Cloud cover and cool temperatures stuck around well into the morning, tricking crew chiefs into thinking Q3 would be another tense battle for low elapsed times, but just as the Funny Cars got to the lanes the skies miraculously cleared, the sun began to beat on the racing surface, and as if a switch had been thrown the conditions changed completely. Like most, Wilk was unable to overcome the vastly different atmosphere, as he smoked the tires on the newly slick and hot track.
As Q4 got underway, cloud cover seemed to be working in the opposite direction, and the few Funny Cars that did make laps seemed to run far better than anyone could've anticipated after Saturday's first blistering session. Cruz Pedregon, for one, not only bumped his way into the field but managed to do so by jumping all the way up to the 8th spot, which nudged Wilk and the Levi, Ray & Shoup team down to 10th. Just minutes later, though, Wilkerson and Bob Tasca lined up behind the water boxes to make their runs, when the first droplets of a summer sprinkle dotted their windshields.
Considering there was blue sky all around and only one dark cloud overhead, there was little concern until a wall of white was seen at the top end of the strip, and the downpour quickly moved to the starting line. As the rain came down in buckets, both teams and race cars were drenched, and a near-capacity crowd was stuck in the massive Norwalk grandstands, unable to escape the deluge.
Soon thereafter, the day was called and Wilk will now run out of that 10th spot, facing the same Bob Tasca in round one.
"It could've worked out worse for us, but not by much," Wilkerson said. "We got tricked by Mother Nature twice, first time on the tune-up, thanks to the conditions completely changing after we got up there, and the second time by the rain. All told, we never had the chance to go out there and find a good race day set-up, or find a good lap to move back up into the top half. That's a long day and a lot of work for my guys, just to have them all look like drowned rats after that gully washer.
"And now, the worst part is we have to face Bob and his guys instead of anyone else. We work together closely as Ford teammates, and we're both right in the middle of the fight to be in the Countdown, so the only time we want to run those guys is late in the race. Now, one of us is going to have a bad day. I don't even like to think about it, and if I stop and think how the weather treated us today, I might not like that very much either. Kind of a wasted day, with a lot of effort involved."