PHOENIX, Ariz. (February 23, 2020) – The second race of the 2020 season of NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series was met with a bit of challenge on Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. The NHRA Arizona Nationals kicked off on Friday with two smooth rounds of qualifying, but on Saturday a lengthy rain shower put final qualifying on hold until late in the afternoon.
Once the clouds moved out, though, a brilliant blue sky and streaming sunshine highlighted the day. Tim Wilkerson and his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang made good use of the circumstances, and he recorded his quickest pass of the weekend to lock into the No. 7 position. Wilk will start Sunday with a first-round meeting with Alexis DeJoria.
After two very solid passes on Friday, the Springfield, Ill., racer clocked a 3.889-second pass at 329.10 mph in the final qualifying session that stood out as the second-quickest of the round and came with a pair of bonus points.
“We were trying to go a little faster than that, but I haven’t quite figured out how to make my car go early yet,” said team owner/crew chief/driver Wilkerson, who won Phoenix in 2016. “My LRS Mustang is fast, but it isn’t ‘fast’ fast yet. It’s deadly consistent, though. I think it’s going to give me a little margin of error later on in the year when the tracks are a little dicier. It’s giving me a little bigger window to work in, so if I get up there and screw up, there is a better chance that it’ll still go down the track.”
Sporting Ford’s new and improved Mustang Funny Car body, the 20-time NHRA winner and 10-time Blue Oval Funny Car victor feels right at home.
“Man, this Mustang sure does go down the track nice. Holy moly,” he exclaimed. “Hopefully the tuning window is going to get a little bit bigger for us as we go, but everything is working good right now, our guys are doing a good job, and this Ford Mustang Funny Car body is really working well. We’re excited about all of that, so tomorrow we’re just going to go up there and race the racetrack. We’ve got a good chance, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Eliminations for the NHRA Arizona Nationals will begin at 11am MT on Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz.
Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang
Q1: 3.934-second at 307.72 mph (No. 4)
Q2: 3.893, 323.27 (No. 6)
Q3: 3.889, 329.10 (No. 7, +2 bonus points)
Final qualifying position: No. 7
First-round opponent: Alexis DeJoria
2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car Standings
(after qualifying for the NHRA Arizona Nationals, race 2 of 24)
1. Jack Beckman, 160
2. John Force, 133
3. Matt Hagan, 129
4. Robert Hight, 100
5. Alexis DeJoria, 99
6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 95
7. Ron Capps, 88
8. Tim Wilkerson, 87
9. Bob Tasca III, 67
10t. Paul Lee, 65
10t. J.R. Todd, 65
36th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Phoenix
February 21-23, 2020Run Schedule (all times local)
Sunday, February 23
8:30 a.m. – Lucas Oil Series Sportsman eliminations continue
9:45 a.m. – SealMaster Track Walk followed by Pre-Race Ceremonies
11:00 a.m. – Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro eliminations begin#NHRAonFOX Schedule (all times ET)
Sunday Show Part 1 / Sunday – 3-4 PM ET / FS1
Finals / Sunday – 9 PM to Midnight ET / FS1
**Full results at DragRaceCentral.com**
– Tim Wilkerson, 20x NHRA Nitro Funny Car Winner –