FUNNY CAR DEFENDING WINNER WILKERSON RETURNS TO GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY ON DIFFERENT MISSION The missions are entirely different, however for NHRA Funny Car star Tim Wilkerson, the potential payoff is just as important.
Photo: my.qoop.com - Tim Wilkerson - Owner, Chief Mechanic and Driver of the LRS Chevy Monte Carlo.
MADISON, Ill. – The missions are entirely different, however for NHRA Funny Car star Tim Wilkerson, the potential payoff is just as important.
One year ago Wilkerson came to his home track – Gateway International Raceway – looking for a win and hunting down the No. 1 points position in the Full Throttle Series Funny Car standings. This year, the Springfield, Ill. racer is still hunting for a win, however, this time around he’s trying to navigate his way into the top 10 in the ultra-competitive Funny Car class in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Last year he was successful with both goals at GIR. He won the race and he moved into the points lead for the first time in his career. He used that race win as momentum to go on a summer winning spree that flipped the category upside down. He narrowly missed winning his first world championship title in the season-ending playoffs.
Riding the wave from his second place points finish from 2008, Wilkerson’s once independent race operation took on a makeover during the offseason. He decided to partner with Bob Tasca and switched from Chevy Impalas to Ford Shelby Mustangs.
His experiment is still in the initial phase, and while he’s not had the on-track results that he would like in the first six races of the season, he is at the point now in the transition where he’s starting to see the bright light at the end of the tunnel.
And that light couldn’t come at a better time.
Wilkerson would like nothing more than to successfully defend his victory from a year ago at the 13th annual O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals, May 1-3 at the state-of-the-art motorsports facility located on the bank of the Mississippi River just east of downtown St. Louis.
Rod Fuller (Top Fuel), Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) join Wilkerson as defending winners in their respective categories at the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. The race will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD.
At Atlanta, Wilkerson outran teammate Tasca and points leader Ron Capps before losing a close semifinal match to eventual winner Jack Beckman. The veteran driver saw some things at that event that let him know that his team is about to dial in its Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang.
“We're definitely making progress and Atlanta showed that, I think,” Wilkerson said. “We basically made five great laps in a row, and our first-round race on Sunday was our best of the weekend. We also brought out a brand new chassis in Atlanta, as if we haven't been starting from scratch in just about every area all year, anyway. I think some people thought I'd lost my mind when we finished second last year, but came out for 2009 with all new stuff. They'd