LAS VEGAS (April 7, 2019) – In Gainesville two weeks ago, Tim Wilkerson and the Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang nitro Funny Car team were hot. They qualified well there on the east coast, and they scored a final-round finish. In Las Vegas this weekend, they showed no signs of cooling as they blasted down the racetrack to score their first No. 1 qualifier award of the season and a trip to the final round on Sunday.
The DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway set the stage for Wilk and his fiercely determined team to show their stuff, and they were flaunting what they’ve got as soon as the tree dropped in round one.
The only guy to react quicker than Wilkerson was Shawn Langdon, known to be one of the best leavers in the sport. At the top end, the LRS Mustang laid down the law with a 3.891-second pass at a brutal 325.69 mph that would hold as low elapsed time of raceday.
Wilkerson advanced to round two along with Jeff Deihl as both Langdon and points leader Robert Hight were up in smoke on the hot racing surface.
In round two, Wilk was again efficient at the hit and made the second-best pass of the round, a 3.996 at 312.21, to move ahead with J.R. Todd to the final. Matt Hagan and Diehl both had trouble in their respective lanes.
Fired up for the final, Wilk was set to hoist a trophy but got a bit out of the groove and encountered tire smoke, which slowed his pace considerably. J.R. Todd moved ahead for the win, and Tommy Johnson Jr. logged a runner-up. Jack Beckman and Wilkerson finished third and fourth, respectively, to officially record semifinals finishes.
“I do feel good, even though I’m a little disappointed,” said Wilkerson, who moved to No. 7 in the Funny Car points with his Las Vegas performance. “We haven’t raced in those kind of conditions this year until today, and I wish I would have been in that lane that we liked because maybe we would have won the race. But ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ is just part of racing.
“We’re happy with the way our Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang is running, and we have a lot of neat things coming in the near future – including a new Ford Mustang body and a special 40th anniversary LRS design. We’re real excited about that new [Funny Car] body, because if it’s as good as the one we have now, we’re going to be really happy. We’re hearing it’s better, so that’s pretty cool.”
The next event on the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour is the NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston, April 12-14.
Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang
Points position following event: No. 7
R1: Tim Wilkerson (3.891-second at 325.69 mph) and Jeff Diehl (4.223, 264.23) defeated Shawn Langdon (4.538, 173.47) and Robert Hight (4.524, 186.30)
R2: Wilkerson (3.996, 312.21) and J.R. Todd (4.030, 314.24) def. Matt Hagan (4.017, 303.57) and Diehl (5.727, 122.73)
R3: Todd (3.970, 319.07) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (3.975, 313.29) def. Jack Beckman (4.370, 213.16) and Wilkerson (4.401, 205.35)
DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
April 5-7, 2019
*Find detailed results at DragRaceCentral.com*
2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car Standings
(after the NHRA Vegas Four-Wide Nationals, race 4 of 24)
1. Robert Hight (2), 363
2. Jack Beckman, 297
3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 283
4. J.R. Todd (1), 280
5. Matt Hagan (1), 271
6. John Force, 258
7. Tim Wilkerson, 246
8. Ron Capps, 205
9. Bob Tasca III, 198
10. Cruz Pedregon, 179