NHRA DEFIES THE WEATHER, WILK QUALIFIES 14th
Tim Wilkerson joined the vast majority of racers and fans when he went to bed on Friday night expecting to see no action on Saturday. Weather forecasts that call for a 100 percent chance of rain, with the wet stuff sticking around for a full day, aren't seen that often, but nearly all the forecasters were calling for a deluge on Saturday and the consensus feeling was that we had no chance. Instead, the system moved out far quicker than expected, although it left by dumping a full-fledged hail storm on the track at the midpoint of the morning, as if putting the exclamation mark on its impact. Once the solid pellets of ice stopped falling from the sky, things improved dramatically and even though the temperature barely flirted with 50 degrees, both planned sessions were run on a very cool track.
Wilk posted a solid 4.168 on his first pass, which temporarily moved him up off the 11th spot he'd held since Thursday. In the end, Wilk was knocked back a few spots before the session was over, and he found himself right back in 11th.
During the final session, Wilk's Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby Mustang was on its best pass of the weekend (and, hence, the young season) when it chucked off the blower belt near half-track. He will race out of the 14th spot on Sunday, and will face Mike Neff in Round 1.
"Pesky blower belts," Wilkerson said, upon arrival back in his pit. "It felt pretty good and then it just quit down there. We've been having clutch disc issues since we got here, but I think we got a better handle on it with that set-up. Now we just need to make the same fixes and get it to run the whole way. We'll be onto something if we can do that."
After studying his data, post-lap, Wilkerson spotted some real positives.
"We were trying to run a high 4.0, and it was right on top of one we ran last year, so it did exactly what we wanted it to do. I'm just not sure yet if the belt broke because the belt broke, or if something in the motor caused it to break. We'll sort through our junk and figure it out, and hopefully we'll have something for those guys on Sunday. When you're running a Force car, you better have your act together."