Tim Wilkerson’s full racing skillset was on display this weekend at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals. It was one of the toughest weekend’s for the driver, crew chef and team owner from Springfield, Illinois, as he battled tough qualifying conditions on Friday and Saturday followed by a Sunday that stretched his team’s abilities to the their limits. The Levi, Ray & Shoup Summit Racing Ford Funny Car team never lost their confidence or motivation to pick up their first win of the season.
In the second round of qualifying Wilkerson scuffed the wall disqualifying his run and sending the veteran driver and crew chief to the final qualifying session needing to step up the performance. Wilkerson and his team rose to the challenge making their quickest run of qualifying and jumping from the bottom half of the field to the No. 7 spot with a 3.997 second pass which was the third quickest run of the session.
Heading into race day Wilkerson and the Levi, Ray & Shoup Summit Racing team faced Jim Campbell and his Jim Dunn Racing entry. Wilkerson took off and was on a great run when his race car started spinning the tires and his engine was dropping cylinders. He worked the throttle to keep his momentum moving down track but the engine let go, erupting in fire before the finish line. The experienced driver was able to get his Mustang Funny Car safely stopped and he picked up an expensive but important round win.
Between the first round and the quarterfinals Wilkerson pulled out his back-up car and readied it for a race against Alexis DeJoria, the No. 2 qualifier, and recent Mile-High Nationals finalist. Both race cars had issues on the run and Wilkerson was not able to get a second win light on SonomaNationals race day.
“We had just about everything happen to the team this weekend,” said Wilkerson. “I have to hand it to my guys because they busted their tails every day to give me a great race car. Things didn’t go our way and I am just going to put this race behind us and focus on Pomona.”
The Levi, Ray & Shoup Summit Racing Funny Car will leave Sonoma Raceway solidly in the top ten with the 61st NHRA Winternationals in Pomona on tap next weekend to close out the Western Swing.
Q1: 4.172 sec, 227.00 mph; Qual. 9
Q2: No Time – wall; Qual. 10
Q3: 3.997 sec, 291.57 mph; Qual. 7
Bonus Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q3)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Tim Wilkerson 7 .143 4.189 237.34 (W)
Jim Campbell 10 .136 4.605 82.46
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Tim Wilkerson 7 .125 5.315 138.47
Alexis DeJoria 2 .088 4.080 260.76 (W)
Camping World Funny Car Top Ten
1. Bob Tasca III, 676
2. Matt Hagan, 655
3. Robert Hight, 636
4. John Force, 624
5. Ron Capps, 613
6. J.R. Todd, 584
7. Alexis DeJoria, 577
8. Tim Wilkerson, 526
9. Cruz Pedregon, 481
10. Terry Haddock, 306
Tony Fay PR