August 6, 2012The Thunder Road Show
TEAM WILKERSON RACING
LEVI, RAY & SHOUP NHRA Nitro Funny Car
O'Reilly Northwest Nationals
Tim Wilkerson - No. 8 (4.174 seconds)
Defeated Tony Pedregon in round one
Lost to Ron Capps in round two
NO LUCK FOR RESURGENT WILK
On a hot weekend in Seattle, Tim Wilkerson did just about everything right. He solved some pesky clutch issues on Friday, creeping up on the sort of consistent performance he's been seeking. On Saturday, he was simply one of the best, earning two bonus points in each session for being the second-quickest each time. His twin 4.17s (a 4.177 in Q3 and an even better 4.174 in Q4, run in more difficult conditions) were things of beauty, and they allowed him to make a huge move up the ladder, landing in the No. 8 spot after having slid as far as 14th. It was all moving in the right direction.
On Sunday, the hot streak continued with a dominating performance in round one, and another spectacular run in round two. Unfortunately, being the second-quickest in the round doesn't count for much if the quickest runner is in the other lane. When potential playoff berths are at stake, there's little solace in knowing you would've beaten every other car in the round, but not the one you ran. In the end, Wilk was simply luckless in Seattle.
In qualifying, Wilk's two Friday runs may not have looked like much to the untrained eye, but they were proving grounds for some new approaches that would clearly payoff later. Having struggled to get beyond the 330-foot mark on too many runs this year, Wilk came up with a new tune-up that would ease the transition at that point, and allow his special-edition Diversified Yacht Services Shelby Mustang to start making consistently solid runs. Although his final Friday run was about a tenth slower than Wilk was shooting for, it was a clean and straight delivery with no tire spin. Things were looking up.
"We changed a lot of things around, and on Friday we could see that we were going in the right direction," Wilk said. "We messed up a little bit on the second one, because we were trying to run about a 4.14, not a 4.24 like we did. It was a promising thing, but it left us in 10th and we knew we had to step up on Saturday."
By the time Wilk did his burnout in his DYS Ford, during Q3 on a hot Saturday (the hottest day in two years, for the Seattle metro area), others had improved enough to knock him down to 14th. He looked to be safe for the field, but was still hoping to improve despite the sizzling conditions. He did just that, wowing the crowd with his 4.717, and he then came back in Q4 to stamp his name on the short list of the best and most consistent runners on-site, posting his 4.174 to officially and finally land in the 8th spot. It was a big and important jump up, but it may have eventually been his undoing.
"When you're 14th, moving up to 8th sounds great, and you're in the top half so that's a good thing," Wilk said. "There are two problems with being 8th, though. First, you're running a car that just about exactly matched you in qualifying, so you know it's going to be tight. Second, if you can get out of first round, you're more than likely going to be running the No. 1 car in round two. It's a tough road, to get to the Winner's Circle out of the 8th spot."
Wilk was able to vanquish Tony Pedregon in round one, posting another solid lap with his newest "quickest of the weekend" effort, a 4.138 which was the second best of the round. The quickest run in round one? That belonged to pole sitter Ron Capps, who would face Wilk in round two. Capps' 4.118 was stellar, and it earned him lane choice.
After swapping motors in a mad thrash between rounds (Wilk and Pedregon were the final pair, giving Team Wilk the shortest possible amount of time to make the swap) Wilk and his crew hustled to the lanes just in time.
In this round, Wilk was away first at the flash of amber and the two cars were in near lockstep for the full 1,000 feet. At the stripe, Capps broke the beams first, ending Wilk's hopes of a Seattle 4-peat and putting a tough damper on his playoff hopes. The numbers were: Capps 4.169 over Wilk's 4.214. No other car ran quicker than Wilk in the round.
"That's just racing luck," Wilk said. "Seriously, they were flawless and we were very, very, good. We would've waltzed over anyone else, but we didn't have anyone else. We had the No. 1 qualifier and we got beat. In this sport, sometimes you can do everything right and still lose, and today was a perfect example of that. We made great strides, we had some fantastic runs, and we ended up only getting one round out of it.
"As for the playoff deal, we're not out of it yet so we're not out of it, but the only way to approach things now is to just focus on the rounds. We're going to be racing for the rest of the year, no matter what, and we're ready to start winning races now. We absolutely had a car today that could've won this race. We just faced the wrong guy in round two. We'll get 'em in Brainerd in a couple of weeks. That's all we can do.
"Oh, and one last thing. Sincere congratulations to Courtney Force, on getting her first professional win today, in her Traxxis Ford Funny Car. That kid was born a racer, and that's what she is. She's a racer. And she's going to win a lot more trophies before she's finished. Well done, Courtney!"