He may be scrambling to make it into the Countdown to the Championship field, but rest assured Funny Car pilot Tim Wilkerson will definitely not let the pressure get to him.
“All you can do is strap in and do your best,” said the Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang driver.
On Friday, the initial day of qualifying for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway, Wilkerson not only strapped in but outperformed everyone on the way to the provisional number one qualifying spot.
His 4.049-second jaunt at 307.16 mph was a tick better than 15-time world champion John Force, who recorded a 4.067-second 1,000-foot trip at 311.15 mph.
“We had stellar conditions here today,” said Wilkerson. “The track was even better for that second run. We were lucky to get it to go right down the middle there.”
Following Wilkerson and Force in the lineup going into Saturday’s qualifying action was Jack Beckman, Cruz Pedregon and Matt Hagan, respectively.
Wilkerson and Hagan are waging a late-season battle for the 10th and final qualifying position for the playoffs which starts in Charlotte next month.
"It's also not just us trying to get in right now, and that's another challenge,” related Wilkerson. “Matt Hagan has gotten hot at the right time, so now he's in 11th place and we're behind him by a round. We'll approach every lap in Brainerd and Indy the same way and if we come out of Indy not in the playoffs our job will be to spoil the party for the teams that are. We'll be aiming to win every round and every race, for the rest of the year. It's the only way we know how to do this."
Wilkerson, who is seeking is first number one qualifier of the year and the 17th of his career, said he will be taking a baseball approach to every lap from this point forward.
“We’re going to go up there and try to hit the thing hard,” he said. “We've been working awfully hard all year, and I think we finally have the car like we want it, so maybe we can still do some good out here.
"We love Brainerd, we love the area, and we love the fans, so it's always a lot of fun. Winning is fun too, so maybe we can string together some more good laps and make the most of it."
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