Reading: Tim Wilkerson preview

WILK WILL BE DOING HIS READING IN READING READING, Pa. (Date, 2010) -- With a mental flashback to elementary school english classes, many might come up with the term "homonym" to describe two words that are spelled the same but pronounced ...


READING, Pa. (Date, 2010) -- With a mental flashback to elementary school english classes, many might come up with the term "homonym" to describe two words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently. Others might opt for "homophone" to describe the situation, but technically they'd both be only partially correct. Two words spelled identically but pronounced differently, while also having different meanings, are actually "heteronyms" and this weekend, during the Toyo Tires Nationals at historic Maple Grove Raceway, Tim Wilkerson will be reading the track in an attempt to be victorious in Reading. After his analysis, he'll get a read what he just read and won't object to the ultimate object of the exercise: Winning the Wally. Every racer hopes to see the Full Throttle crew present that present in the Winner's Circle.

Any positive outcome in Reading, for Wilk, will be accomplished with more of an overall aim to succeed as opposed to being part of a realistic 2010 championship bid, as he enters this race 10 rounds out of the top spot with only 12 rounds of racing left in the season. True, he is not yet mathematically eliminated, but barring historic collapses by an overwhelmingly large group of traditionally great teams, as well as a bushel of bonus points with perhaps a national record tossed in for good measure, he's effectively out of the running for the crown. That, however, does not knock him out of the running for any given lap, round, or race. He's still a competitor who is driven to win.

"This is no different than a typical year from back before the Countdown, when you could realistically be out of it by Indy on Labor Day, much less by the beginning of October, like we are now," Wilkerson said. "We didn't pack it in and quit then, and we're not going to do that now. We're going to fire our best shots at them and try to spoil the fun for the teams at the top of the standings, and at the same time we'll be able to tweak a few things and get an early handle on how we want to attack the 2011 season.

"It's still pretty tight up there at the top, with a group of four or five teams having a shot at it over these final three races, so the best thing we can do is run so well none of those contenders want to face us. We can't control who we run on Sunday, but I want to make sure nobody is happy about having to line up next to us, and they'll know going in that we're going to be trying to take them out and ruin their day."

As much in control as John Force (2,339 points and atop the standings), Matt Hagan (2,314), Jack Beckman (2,294), Ashley Force Hood (2,271), and Bob Tasca (2,215) seem to be, the underlying truth and the challenge ahead has a lot to do with just how well some non-Countdown and out-of-contention teams are running, here at the end of the 2010 season. Cruz Pedregon, who is not in the playoffs, has one of the best cars in the Funny Car class right now, while the likes of Jeff Arend, Del Worsham, and Wilk himself have shown flashes of dominance as of late. Should those spoilers step up to take over a race or two, the favorites at the top could find themselves scrambling.

"If you predicted a semifinal in Reading that included us, Del, Cruz, and Arend, I wouldn't call that out of line at all," Wilk said. "All of us have fast enough cars to get that far, and guys like Paul Lee, Jim Head, Tony Pedregon, and Bob Bode can all beat anyone they race, too. The math might be working against us in terms of the big trophy, but the fact so many lower ranked cars are running so good right now makes it a tougher deal for those teams at the top. Then you've got (Ron) Capps and (Robert) Hight just ahead of us, too, and even though they're eight or nine rounds out, they're a couple of the best drivers with the best cars out here.

"I have a funny feeling there's going to be a wild finish to this season, and there might be a lot of place-swapping going on all over the top ten. Right now, the weather forecast for Maple Grove is looking great, too, and when it's cool and dry in Reading the place can be historic, so we might just come out of this weekend with a totally shuffled deck, in terms of the cars at the top and the cars at the bottom. It ain't over 'til it's over, and in terms of us taking our Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby to the Winner's Circle, that will never be over. We'll aim for that no matter where we are in the standings or where we are in the season. You can bank on that."

After all, any great team can lead. All they have to do is get the lead out.

-source: twr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Paul Lee , Bob Bode , Jeff Arend , Matt Hagan