Brownsburg, Ind. (July 13, 2020) – Two rounds of qualifying on Saturday at the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals left Tim Wilkerson wanting more. But on Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, the driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang had a racecar that was eager to please its owner, and please its owner it did.
The LRS Ford reached the semifinals with Wilkerson at the helm, and it showed certain promise and a total turnaround from qualifying. Two sessions on Saturday were each cut short as Wilk’s Mustang inexplicably quit before reaching the finish line, and after carefully going through the data and his car, the seasoned veteran was able to get everything in order.
In the first round of eliminations and on a day that came with a completely different racing surface and air temps, it was a crapshoot as to who would bring the right combination to the table. Wilk had it dialed in and knocked out Cruz Pedregon in the first round before he laid down his quickest pass of the weekend, a 3.982-second journey down the dragstrip at 321.12 mph to defeat Jonnie Lindberg’s 3.990, 318.99.
The LRS Mustang was done for the day in the semis, though, when a puff of tire smoke slowed the ambitious jaunt. Matt Hagan advanced on a 3.959, 322.34 to 4.349, 211.43.
“I knew if we could get this car to stop shutting off, it would run right – and it did,” said Wilkerson. “It put a hole out in the semis; it just got through the clutch out there in the middle and started to spin. I thought I could go a little faster than that, but the track was just a whole lot better today than it was yesterday because of the rain overnight. But I’m pretty happy with our performance today. We won some rounds, and I’m optimistic. We’ll keep beating on it, and we should have a pretty good racecar next week.”
Every round counts more than ever due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic shortening the season, and those two round wins could come in handy later in the year as the championship is coming into view. At present, Wilkerson is No. 4 in the Mello Yello Series Funny Car standings.
“That’s pretty cool, but the car is still not quite acting the way I want it to,” Wilkerson continued. “I’ll give us a B-minus at the moment, but we’re going to see some pretty good racing for the remainder of this year. I like it.”
The next nitro event on the schedule for NHRA’s 2020 season of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals at Indianapolis next weekend, July 18-19. The schedule is subject to change. Go to NHRA.com/schedule/2020 to view the current schedule.
Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang
R1: Tim Wilkerson defeated Cruz Pedregon, 4.005-second at 319.82 mph to 4.096, 280.31
R2: Wilkerson def. Jonnie Lindberg, 3.982, 321.12 to 3.990, 318.99
R3: Matt Hagan def. Wilkerson, 3.959, 322.34 to 4.349, 211.43
2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car Standings
(after Race 3, the NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis)
1. Jack Beckman 278
2. Tommy Johnson Jr. 276
3. Matt Hagan 238
4. Tim Wilkerson 179
5. John Force 173
6. Ron Capps 159
7. Alexis DeJoria 154
8. Bob Tasca III 149
9. J.R. Todd 141
10. Robert Hight 100
2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
**Full results at DragRaceCentral.com**
– Tim Wilkerson, 20x NHRA Nitro Funny Car Winner –