Wilkerson puts faith in new chassis
Tim Wilkerson's sudden need for a new chassis has left his team uncertain whether it can turn its fortunes around at Sonoma Raceway.
Thus far in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello season, with 14 races complete, it’s been a roller-coaster ride for Tim Wilkerson, driver of the Levi, Ray and Shoup (LRS) Ford Mustang Funny Car. While the Illinois-based driver has won a couple of races and sits ninth in the points standings, he’s also had some troubling contests that have had driver/owner/tuner Wilkerson and his co-crew chief Richard Hartman shaking their heads.
He’s had his car turn sideways at the hit; he’s become way too friendly with the walls that line the lanes of each circuit - and otherworld-types of strange occurrences that simply don’t happen to teams of his caliber and to racecars built by the likes of Murf McKinney. But happen they have and, after hitting the wall in qualifying at Denver last week, the team needed a new car and needed it quickly for this weekend’s 29th annual Toyota Sonoma Nationals.
The call went to McKinney, his Lafayette, Ind.-based company went to work and the team received their new skeleton of a racecar on Thursday morning.
“We were pretty happy with the way things were going by about 5:30-6pm Thursday night but we’re still taking care of all those little things you need to prepare for competition,” said Hartman as he and Wilkerson continued working on the car.
At this point the team can use their setup skills and hope they’ve got it right; they can perform all the usual and customary chores to set up the car to Wilkerson’s preference before they wheel their machine to the staging lanes. They’ll have the engine prepped, the superchargers ready, the clutch pack optimized as best they can, but until the body is placed over Wilkerson’s body and the burnout ensues, they won’t have any idea of what the new car will do.
The team can use its database, but every single racecar has a personality of its own and, for Tim Wilkerson and his LRS Funny Car team, the blind date just has to come off right.
The FS1 highlight show that comes on the air at 7:30PM EDT will reveal whether the optimal conditions at near-sea-level Sonoma Raceway have helped Wilkerson and his team get their sums right.