TEAM WILKERSON RACING
LEVI, RAY & SHOUP NHRA Nitro Funny Car
AAA Midwest Nationals
Gateway Motorsports Park
Tim Wilkerson - No. 10 (3.998 seconds)
Defeated Courtney Force in round one
Lost to Del Worsham in round two
WILK'S SHOW OF POWER ONLY NETS A QUARTERFINAL FINISH
Tim Wilkerson ran a 3.998 in qualifying at St. Louis, and it was the first three ever run at Gateway Motorsports Park, but it only earned him the footnote of being the first driver in the threes to ever qualify 10th. On Sunday, he bettered that mark twice, running 3.983 at 323.12 mph in round one before then posting an even better 3.974 at 323.04 mph in round two. And for the effort, he saw his day end at the hands of Del Worsham, whose 3.956 was too much to overcome. And there were no parting gifts. It's a cold cruel sport when the thousandths go the wrong way.
Wilk really only made one solid run in qualifying, and at the time of his 3.99 in Q2 on Friday it was a record-breaking run. Then the threes starting lighting up the scoreboard at a stunning pace, as the track got better with every pass, and before long nine other drivers had gone lower. Robert Hight also shared the bottom half with Wilk, as a three-second driver, at this record-shattering event.
"We didn't have much of a day on Saturday, but we studied it all night and I thought we had a good plan for round one, but you never know," Wilk said. "We ran a three on Friday and didn't make the top half, so that set us up against Courtney Force and that's a very difficult proposition. They just missed the Countdown so they have absolutely nothing to lose and no reason not to go for it. I knew they wouldn't be conservative."
Wilk's conjecture appeared to be correct. Under more overcast skies and cool temperatures, Wilk and Force left almost in lockstep, but the Traxxas car went into tire smoke early while the Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang tore from end to end with the 3.983 that moved Wilk on to the second round. His undesirable match up there was the points leader, Del Worsham, who was on a five-round winning streak and who had, at that moment, the time and the backup for a new National Record after he had posted a sterling 3.899 on Saturday. And as an indication of just how impressive this edition of the St. Louis stop was on the Mello Yello tour, Worsham's 3.899 was only second best. Matt Hagan outran him with a 3.883 as part of that pair, but Hagan's number did not have the back-up Worsham had.
As Worsham described it on the Public Address system, the slow light on the tree had both he and Wilk itching to go. Worsham described the difference between a quick tree and a slow tree as being like "With one you feel like the tree is broken and the other feels like someone is pulling a prank on you."
Both drivers managed to keep their right foot off the floor until the flash of amber, and Worsham got away first with a strong .037 light compared to Wilk's .063 (and for the record, Wilk was also .078 in round one, so both of his lights were much better than his 2015 average of .091) and both cars tore down the Gateway track like two evenly matched slot cars (albeit it at 1:1 scale). Worsham simply kept up his stellar runs in the postseason, and his 3.956 sent Wilk packing.
"We weren't exactly under any delusion that we'd get a lucky win or get anything other than a huge run from those guys," Wilk said. "They're on a roll, and Del is on a roll, and we knew we'd have to put our best run of the weekend on the board. We did that, and we ran strong, but it just wasn't enough. All you can do is keep your head up and be proud of what you did, and that's how we feel.
"We had Dick Levi with us on Saturday, along with too many LRS staffers and guests to count, and we had Jason Curry and his family with us all weekend, from Curry's Transportation, and finally we got to host a great group from Karmak Technologies, from just up the road in Carlinville, Illinois. They wanted to stick a toe in the NHRA water and we worked out a one-race deal with them. They were pretty blown away, so maybe that will be an annual thing or maybe even something bigger down the road. All in all, a great race for us, other than getting caught up in the Del Worsham buzz saw there in round two."
The NHRA Mello Yello tour now heads directly to Reading, Pennsylvania next weekend, to cap off this three-in-a-row start to the six-race Countdown.
Team Wilkerson Racing
NHRA Nitro Funny Car
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