NHRA Auto Club Finals
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
Tim Wilkerson - No. 11 (4.011 seconds)
Lost to Robert Hight in round one
PEDALING DUEL PUNCTUATES WILK'S SEASON
Tim Wilkerson faced off with Robert Hight on Sunday, after having spent two days in a Jekyll and Hyde race car that either ran solid 4.0s or smoked the tires at the 660-foot mark. He was hoping for the Dr. Jekyll version, not the evil Mr. Hyde, on a cool Sunday morning. He got Mr. Hyde.
On Friday, Wilk posted a 4.023 in Q1 but then followed that up with a tire smoker. On Saturday, he improved his time to a 4.011, but slipped to 11th on the ladder when the gremlin-infused clutch in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford acted up again in Q4. For the effort, he was lined up on the grid against Hight and he simply wanted a clean lap.
"We're a little bit in test mode here, and still a lot lost on what the clutch wants from us right now, but I looked around and saw some other teams having the same issues so at least we're not the Lone Rangers at this time of year," Wilk said. "It's just being a brat and it may be time to kind of start over next year with some new stuff.
"We got better here, at least making two decent runs, but we never put two together back-to-back and that's not only frustrating it's also a momentum killer. You can't win unless you can string some good runs together and we haven't been able to do that for the last three races. It's a tough way to go."
On Sunday, with Hight and Wilk being the sixth and 11th qualifiers, one might have imagined that the two would be the sixth pair, but when the opening pair was surprisingly available Hight's team took that spot. Since Wilk will almost always take the first pair if he has choice and the slot is open, he was fine with the position.
At the flash of amber, Wilk got away well with a .076 light but Hight got off the line first with a .059, although the reaction times were the least exciting parts of the match-up. Wilk's LRS Mustang smoked the tires just off the starting line but Hight's car soon followed and an epic pedaling duel ensued.
Wilk worked hard to get his car settled but it spun again through at least three pedaling efforts, while Hight's did the same. While Wilk continued to pedal and work his way down the track Hight managed to get out to a huge lead before his car again spun and dropped cylinders just as Wilk managed to get his LRS car hooked up. He was charging hard and reeling Hight in, but in the end his 5.787 at 270.59 mph came up just short to Hight's 5.744 at only 220.94 mph. Had this race been contested at a distance of 1,005 feet, Wilk would've caught him, but at 1,000 he came up inches short.
"I kept trying to feather and ease into it and get it to go, but it spun again each time," Wilk said. "Then I finally got it to hook up and off we went. It hiked the front end and was sashaying around out there, and to tell you the truth it's really a fun way to race. I was catching him like he was in reverse, but we came up short. Amazing that a 5.74 beats a 5.78 because the two of us had very different laps.
"So, needless to say that's not the way we wanted the season to end. I'm so proud of my guys and I'm sorry we could sort out this tune-up here at the end of the year, because my guys just got better and better all year. What a great group we had here this year. I couldn't be any prouder of them. Just sorry the season is over."
And congratulations to Del Worsham on his historic Funny Car championship!
Team Wilkerson Racing
NHRA Nitro Funny Car
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