WILKERSON, FULLER, K. JOHNSON AND HINES WIN; FORCE EARNS 1,000TH ROUND WIN MADISON, Ill. - Tim Wilkerson denied John Force Racing's Mike Neff his first career win on the same day Neff's boss made history at the 12th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest...
WILKERSON, FULLER, K. JOHNSON AND HINES WIN; FORCE EARNS 1,000TH ROUND WIN
MADISON, Ill. - Tim Wilkerson denied John Force Racing's Mike Neff his first career win on the same day Neff's boss made history at the 12th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Castrol.
Wilkerson earned his first win at his hometown track, his second of the season and seventh of his career when he drove his Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevy Impala SS to a 4.874-second finish at 317.27 mph to Neff's 4.886 at 321.58 in his Old Spice Ford Mustang.
Early in the day, Force cemented his position as the most prolific Funny Car driver in NHRA history when he reached 1,000 round wins, the first driver to do so, in a first-round match-up with Ron Capps.
The win marked Wilkerson's second victory over a JFR entry this year - he defeated team owner and driver John Force's daughter Ashley in Las Vegas. He enters the season's next event in Bristol leading the NHRA POWERade Series points for the first time in his 11-year career after qualifying No. 1 at the event.
"The emotions are out of control," Wilkerson said. "It was all I could do at the other end of the track just to get out of the car...It'll get the monkey off our back. We ended up qualifying No. 1 a couple of times this year and couldn't even get out of first round. We're pretty proud (this win). My guys are just doing a terrific job working on my car, and the track was good all day."
After watching new teammate and Pro Stock Motorcycle transplant Antron Brown win two of the season's first six events, 2007 title contender Rod Fuller has his own reason to celebrate. Fuller piloted his Caterpillar dragster to a 4.525 at 328.70 around Tony Schumacher's 4.583 at 325.45 in his U.S. Army-backed dragster.
"I kind of had a chip on my shoulder from what happened to me last year, leading the points all year long and losing to (Schumacher, the reigning POWERade Series world champion)," Fuller said. "It's gratifying when you beat him. What else can I say about David Powers Motorsports? Four finals in a row for us and three wins. It just tells you how strong this organization is.
"I take a lot of pride in (Brown's) success because we're really close to each other. He gives me a lot of compliments by saying how much I helped him and I have helped him a lot. It's almost like we're brothers and it's like watching my little brother Tony racing. If I can't win I want him to win. I always say drag racing is like a merry-go-round. You just have to wait for your time to get on."
Kurt Johnson earned his first win since Phoenix of last year when he drove his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt to a 6.631 at 209.30 for a win over Dave Connolly's 6.651 at 208.78 in his Charter Communications Chevy Cobalt. It is his 37th career and third at Gateway (2005, 1998).
"It was pretty tough out there," Johnson said. "There was a lot of tire shake... I think everybody just kind of underestimated the race track. It was exceptional for me. We ran a .58 this morning and it's hard to touch it after that, but we knew we had to make some changes. We changed the gears around; we changed the clutch around. The whole ACDelco crew just came together and we did what we needed to do."
Andrew Hines turned in his 16th consecutive run in the six-second range to earn his second consecutive and 15th career win on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
"The V-Rod's just going straight, making good runs," Hines said. "It's the same engine we ran in Atlanta. We tried a different engine on Friday and it just didn't seem to have as many ponies as this one. We wanted to get back the No. 1 qualifying spot and we put the engine back in yesterday and just couldn't find the set-up because it was making so much horsepower here in St. Louis.
"It was throwing us for a loop...but winning from the No. 3 spot, that still means a lot. Four races in three finals and two wins, it's just a tribute to how good my team is."