CONCORD, N.C. (October 15, 2018) – Tim Wilkerson and the Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang nitro Funny Car team just won’t give in. Wilkerson and his determined crew came to Charlotte with momentum, and the NHRA Carolina Nationals kept them fired up. On Sunday at zMAX Dragway, the team reached the semifinals and remain in championship contention with just two events left in the 2018 season of NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Qualified in the No. 3 position, Wilkerson had the upper hand with lane choice in his first-round meeting with Jim Campbell. There, he was off the starting line first and made a strong 3.915-second pass at 308.28 mph to defeat a tire-smoking 7.556, 86.70.
In the second round, Wilkerson came up against Matt Hagan without the advantage of lane choice. Knowing he had to gain an early advantage, Wilk powered off the starting line with a .052-second reaction time to his opponent’s .072, and it paid off at the top end. The Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford got the win light due to Wilk’s holeshot paired with a 3.910, 328.46 to Hagan’s quicker but ineffective 3.903, 323.58.
“That’s pure luck to holeshot Matt Hagan, he’s the big dog in the camp there – the king of leaving,” said Wilkerson at the top end after their match. “He’s my buddy, but I’m pumped up to run that guy. We’re happy to get this far – it’s some tough racing out there.”
In the semifinals, Wilkerson’s day came to an end. Although he was quicker off the starting line, he didn’t have quite enough for Ron Capps, who advanced on a 3.903, 320.97 to 3.978, 323.97.
“We had a pretty good day,” said Wilkerson, who leaves the event in the No. 4 position and just two points behind No. 3 Capps. “We didn’t go as fast as we should have there in the semifinals; it just stuck the tire and went nowhere. The track was better than I was, and that was irritating, but we’re going to go on to Vegas and just focus on winning rounds. Hopefully, more of them will fall in our favor.”
The next stop on the 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour is the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 25-28, 2018. The event will be the 23rd of 24 on the schedule.
Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang
Position in Funny Car standings: No. 4
R1: Tim Wilkerson (3.915-second at 308.28 mph) defeated Jim Campbell (7.556, 86.70)
R2: Wilkerson (3.910, 328.46) def. Matt Hagan (3.903, 323.58)
R3: Ron Capps (3.903, 320.97) def. Wilkerson (3.978, 323.97)
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Funny Car Standings
(after NHRA Carolina Nationals,
Countdown to the Championship race 4 of 6)
1. Robert Hight, 2445
2. J.R. Todd, 2434
3. Ron Capps, 2336
4. Tim Wilkerson, 2334
5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2296
6. Courtney Force, 2264
7. John Force, 2241
8. Matt Hagan, 2229
9. Jack Beckman, 2204
10. Shawn Langdon, 2152
**Full results posted throughout the weekend at DragRaceCentral.com**
– Tim Wilkerson, 20x NHRA Nitro Funny Car Winner –