Wilkerson Battles Through Thunder Valley Nationals

Photo Credit NHRA

Two days of qualifying and a very cool race day challenged Tim Wilkerson and the Levi, Ray & Shoup Summit Racing Ford Mustang Funny Car at historic Bristol Dragway. After the Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions, Wilkerson had powered his 11,000 horsepower Funny Car to the No. 4 qualifier position. He came out of the trailer on Friday with the quickest run of the day and the provisional No. 1. Throughout the two sessions on Saturday Wilkerson along with car chief Richard Hartman looked at ways to repeat that performance after track conditions began to change following overnight rains and dropping temperatures.

Neither run on Saturday moved the team to the finish line under power. The tricky track conditions kept all the Funny Car teams on their toes. Many crew chiefs and teams were discussing managing the track conditions which included an exceptional launch zone for the first 60 feet followed by a track surface that was unwieldy to the power generated by the short wheel-based Funny Cars that cover the 1,000-foot race track in less than four seconds.

On Sunday morning air temperatures barely crept above 50 degrees and track temperatures hovered around 75 degrees at the start of eliminations. A chaotic first round of Top Fuel which featured nearly half a dozen engine explosions resulting in a significant amount of down time had tuners re-evaluating their decisions. Wilkerson made some adjustments based on his two Saturday runs with the hope that he could capture the magic that put him at the top of the field on Friday night.

His first round opponent was No. 11 qualifier and fellow Mustang driver Bob Tasca III who through three rounds never cracked the four second barrier on any of his runs. Wilkerson knew the team would step up and he was also confident he had made the appropriate changes for his Levi, Ray & Shoup Summit Racing Mustang Funny Car. Unfortunately, his tuning moves did not equate to race day success.

“We made some adjustments based on what happened yesterday and they didn’t work at all,” said Wilkerson, in his crew chief lounge in the pits. “We made some changes on Saturday and didn’t get the results we wanted so I tried something else and that didn’t work either which is very frustrating. I am going through the run now and hopefully we can figure it out. I have some time before Las Vegas, but we just missed it today.”

At the hit of the throttle Wilkerson knew he had his hands full as he was forced to pedal his race car to try and get it to hook up and power down the track. Without a strong launch there was no chance for the two-time 2021 winner and reigning U.S. Nationals champion to catch up to Tasca who was on a decent run. The team will have a week off before the second to last NHRA national event in two weeks at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Qualifying Results

Q1: 3.965 sec, 295.27 mph; Qual. 1

Q2: 7.575 sec, 88.36 mph; Qual. 2

Q3: 7.035 sec, 121.97 mph; Qual. 4

Bonus Points: +3 (Quickest of Q1)

Race Results

First Round
Driver                          Qual    R/T      ET        MPH 
Tim Wilkerson             4          .125     6.522   103.46

Bob Tasca III                11        .095     4.016   288.77 (W)

Camping World Funny Car Countdown Top Ten

1.       Ron Capps                                  2490

2.       Matt Hagan                                2489

3.       J.R. Todd                                    2407

4.       Cruz Pedregon                           2389

4.       John Force                                  2389

6.       Bob Tasca III                               2343

7.       Robert Hight                              2337

8.       Alexis DeJoria                             2319

9.       Tim Wilkerson                           2249

10.     Blake Alexander                        2184

Tony Fay PR

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