TEAM WILKERSON RACING
LEVI, RAY & SHOUP NHRA Nitro Funny Car
FOR WILK, POMONA 2 LEADS DIRECTLY TO POMONA 1
POMONA, Calif. (November 9, 2015) -- This weekend, at the NHRA Auto Club Finals, the 2015 Mello Yello season will conclude with fierce competition and the crowning of a Funny Car champion, as Del Worsham and Jack Beckman fight it out for the top spot. In most ways, the historic Finals are rightfully a conclusion at the end of yet another marathon season, but for Levi, Ray & Shoup Funny Car owner/tuner/driver Tim Wilkerson, the race will also be the next step in an ongoing process.
Wilk enters the event in the No. 10 spot in the Mello Yello standings, trailing Cruz Pedregon by only six points and Alexis DeJoria by 33, but his overall view of the season finale is more about setting the tone for 2016. Struggling with clutch issues at the last two races, Wilk has felt the frustration of not being able to put a solid race car on the track during the latter part of this season's Countdown playoffs, and he's aiming to fix that in Pomona.
"We're just trying to get our ducks in a little better row before 2015 is over," Wilk said. "Our budget doesn't allow us to do nearly as much testing as these other playoff teams do, so we want to finish this year on a better note to give us a leg up on 2016. Don't get me wrong, we're not treating Pomona as a test session. We're going there to race and hopefully win, but right now we have some gremlins in the clutch system and if we sort those out we'll not only feel a little better about ourselves but we'll also have a good chance to move up a spot or two in the standings.
"It became pretty obvious in Dallas that we were losing the handle on how the clutch was acting, and part of that was the unfortunate timing of us running out of one specific batch of discs. We had to start mixing in some newer discs that didn't act quite the same, but that happens all the time out here and you have to be able to adapt and handle that. We changed some other parts in the clutch as well, and we're still trying to sort it all out. That's our goal in Pomona."
The concept of one season seamlessly leading to the next is more appropriate in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing than it is in most other sports, thanks to the very short winter off-season. Once the LRS team returns to its shop in Springfield, Ill. after Pomona, and then sorts its parts and services everything, the gap between "this year" and "next year" is really just a matter of a couple of months. With the holidays thrown in, the number of actual work days before the team leaves the shop to test prior to its return to Pomona for the 2016 opener is somewhere short of the 50 range. It's not much of an off-season compared to the major "stick and ball" sports.
"The Finals are just the next race before the Winternationals, because the off-season is over before you know it," Wilk said. "We're going to have some turnover before next year, in terms of manpower, so we'll have that to deal with that and we'll try to get everyone up to speed as best we can. Hopefully we'll be able to go to the big preseason test in Phoenix before we get to Pomona, as well.
"I like the concept of organizing it and naming it NHRA Nitro Spring Training in Phoenix, the week before Pomona. That term will ring a better bell with fans than just calling it a test session, and we'll be out in the right part of the country to open up in Pomona a week later anyway. I hope we'll be able to be there, and we're aiming to do that. First off, though, we need to finish strong this weekend in Pomona to set the stage for a strong 2016. Finishing with a single digit on the car for next year would be a sign that we're on the right path."
One more race. One more season in the books. One more short off-season ahead. And the beat goes on.
Team Wilkerson Racing
NHRA Nitro Funny Car
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