Wilkerson - Ford interview 2009-02-18

This Week in Ford Racing Tim Wilkerson, driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang Nitro Funny Car was the top qualifier at Firebird International Raceway in 2008. Wilkerson talks as a driver and team owner about heading back to Phoenix in a...

This Week in Ford Racing

Tim Wilkerson, driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang Nitro Funny Car was the top qualifier at Firebird International Raceway in 2008. Wilkerson talks as a driver and team owner about heading back to Phoenix in a brand new Ford Mustang Funny Car and working with Bob Tasca III.

YOU JUST CAME OFF OF A DISAPPOINTING WEEKEND AT POMONA - YOU ONLY HAD A CHANCE TO RUN DOWN THE TRACK ONCE, BECAUSE OF THE RAIN. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE OPENING WEEKEND? "Well, the opening weekend at Pomona we just had some issues with the pneumatics of the car, a broken air hose. We must have broken it when we were pulling it out of the pit area, because it wasn't broken during the warm-up. When I turned the air bottle on at the starting line, all the air ran out of the system, so nothing pneumatic worked, which meant you didn't have any clutch or any timing control or any fuel control- nothing worked. So, driving it down through there, it shuttered the tires. Driving it I knew there was something wrong because the motor was screaming but the Mustang wasn't moving, so I gave up. I didn't really want to see the new car in two pieces, so I gave up and thought, 'Oh, well, we're going to get another run in,' and then the rain came. I really thought they would just do it the next weekend, but they called it and so our weekend was over."

YOU WEREN'T THE ONLY CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER FROM LAST YEAR THAT ENDED UP MISSING OUT BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER.LARRY DIXON IN TOP FUEL ALSO HAD AN ISSUE ON HIS LONE RUN AND FAILED TO QUALIFYI. IT WAS A TOUGH WEEKEND. IT CAUGHT A LOT OF PEOPLE BY SURPRISE. "Yeah, that was the problem with that [limited qualifying runs].We had that going in reverse last year a couple of times, we skidded through with having a bad weekend, but still got in the show. This year, we started out at the beginning and had some bad luck and it bit us, so hopefully that's behind us now, and we won't ever have to talk about that again."

THIS WEEKEND YOU'RE HEADED TO PHOENIX, TO THE WARM CLIMATE AND TO THE ARIZONA NATIONALS. "Basically, we're going to take our brand-new Mustang there and see how it acts. That was the first run for the car down the track last weekend at Pomona, so I really don't have much to go off of in the way of telling you that we have this spectacular performance advantage , because I really don't know. But based on the way all the Force cars ran, and the way Bob Tasca's car ran, I am optimistic. I have the same exact car; in a Ford Mustang and I just have to figure out how my tune-up will relate to this new chassis."

WILL THE TECHNICAL ALLIANCE WITH BOB TASCA COME INTO PLAY? HE HAS THREE ROUNDS OF DATA FROM POMONA AND HE DID EXTENSIVE OFF-SEASON TESTING, SO WILL THAT HELP YOU PREPARE FOR THIS WEEKEND? "I think so. We have a little different motor combination than he does, but I think basically we have the same power plant so we can use some of what they learned and that will help us get our car in the show. I see some transition and we're going to take our time trying to get the thing down through there, so hopefully we don't get caught up doing the wrong thing, but we're optimistic."

FORTUNATELY WITH THE COUNTDOWN TO 1, YOU ONLY HAVE TO KEEP THAT TOP 10 IN SIGHT. IT'S NOT LIKE YOU HAVE TO SET YOUR SIGHTS ON THE POINTS LEADER AND THAT IS WHERE YOU HAVE TO GET TO. YOU JUST HAVE TO STAY WITHIN SHOT OF THAT TOP 10. "Yeah, that's just it and that's why we got all the guys together and said the same thing last week. You know in the scheme of things it's really not that huge of a blow [not qualifying at Pomona], if it was the 15th race of the year and we were number 17, we would be a little more concerned. Being the first race of the year and being number 17 really doesn't mean anything, we just need to get over that and go into this weekend and qualify. I mean, last year I qualified No. 1 at both of the first two races and still wasn't in the Top 10 after I left Phoenix because I got beat in the first round both times. So if I go to the second round here, I'm basically in the same shape I was last year and things ended up pretty good last year. So, hopefully, we can go to Phoenix and do some good."

-credit: ford

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tim Wilkerson , Bob Tasca III