Richmond: Tim Wilkerson preview

WILK GETS BACK TO BUSINESS IN RICHMOND RICHMOND, Va. (October 7, 2009) -- After the enormous drama and stress of the previous weekend in Memphis, Tim Wilkerson is looking forward to getting back to the basics, and back to the business at hand,...

WILK GETS BACK TO BUSINESS IN RICHMOND

RICHMOND, Va. (October 7, 2009) -- After the enormous drama and stress of the previous weekend in Memphis, Tim Wilkerson is looking forward to getting back to the basics, and back to the business at hand, this weekend in Richmond. When you're overseeing the operation of two nitro Funny Cars, instead of one, the work load is huge. When your son is in the second car, the stress level increases. When that car, carrying your boy, crashes hard into the wall, a lot of issues which had previously seemed important, instantly seem irrelevant.

Fortunately, Daniel Wilkerson walked away from one of the sport's more spectacular crashes in recent memory, and now his father will flip the switch back to the job at hand, focusing on one car only for this weekend's NHRA Virginia Nationals, the final race in a quartet of back-to-back events that have drained and exhausted even the largest and best-funded teams on the tour. Now, there are but three races left in the 2009 season, and championships are at stake.

"We're not eliminated mathematically yet, so we're still in it," said Wilkerson, owner/driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby Mustang. "We're in a tough spot if you want to talk about teams that are really in contention, but until they put that little asterisk next to your name, that one that means you're officially out of it, we'll go about our business and try to run the table."

Wilkerson remains in 8th place, after picking up one round in Memphis, and is 127 points behind Ashley Force Hood, who holds the top spot. That's slightly more than six rounds of racing, with only 12 rounds left to run this year.

"These new bonus points for running low e.t. of each session aren't helping us much, I'm afraid," Wilkerson said. "We're capable of running right with everyone, but we've only been in the top three of a session one time so far. What hurts is that the same teams tend to be running at the front every session, including Ashley and Robert Hight, who are right up there at the top. They can pick up six or eight points a race, or more, just with those bonus points, so it's hard to make up ground.

"All we can do, though, is get after it like there's no tomorrow. We'll take our best shot every session, and then we'll try to strap a number on someone in round one. We did a pretty good job of that in round one in Memphis, running our best lap of the weekend, and we ran pretty good in the second round, too, but got beat by a faster car. All you can do is your best, out here, and if they outrun you, well then they outrun you."

Wilkerson has already put the dramatic Memphis Monday behind him, but he knows he won't soon forget it and neither will his son, Daniel. It was a harrowing moment, for all involved, but such situations teach valuable lessons.

"First of all, the safety equipment did its job," Wilk said. "He's a young man with a lot of strength, and he was absolutely fine after the deal. His old man probably wouldn't have jumped out the car and ran around like he did, but he's young and resilient. Now he knows, first-hand, what these cars can do to you, and even though he always has had a ton of respect for any car he's raced, I know he has even a little bit more now. You can go your whole career without something that bad happening, so he's got that behind him.

"I've known, for a long time, how serious this business is. That's why we hand-pick a crew that takes it as seriously as our guys do. There's no messing around in our pit, because you're working on a beast that can take everything from you. I guess I'm just glad we have this behind us, because it was a tough weekend, and a very tough day. Now we get back to business."

With more than six rounds to make up in three races, the agenda for the business at hand includes a proposed trip to the Winner's Circle. Only time will tell if that business plan comes to fruition.

-credit: twr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Daniel Wilkerson