BAYTOWN, Texas (April 13, 2019) – Tim Wilkerson and his Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang have been on a tear as-of-late, and in qualifying at Houston Raceway Park’s 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil, he remained true to form. The Springfield, Illinois-based nitro Funny Car campaigner powered to a best time of 3.895-second at 321.12 mph to claim the No. 3 position and a total of four bonus points. He will race Blake Alexander in round one on Sunday.
Wilkerson’s lofty qualifying berth certainly comes as no surprise. He entered the Houston event on the heels of back-to-back final rounds in both Gainesville and Las Vegas, and he and his dedicated team have been sharpening the saw at each race in qualifying. In Phoenix he was No. 3, in Gainesville No. 2, and in Las Vegas he nabbed the pole. It all comes down to raceday, though, and that is where Wilkerson is aching to see the team’s collective effort come to fruition.
“The problem you’re going to have tomorrow is that it’s going to be 180 degrees different out there than it’s been all weekend,” said Wilkerson, eyeing the fluctuating Houston-area weather. “We have crazy power now, but the weather system that’s going to come through is going to make it anybody’s race.”
Sunday’s forecast is calling for temperatures in the high 50s to mid-60s. Weather in Houston qualifying, though, was hot and sticky.
Wilkerson took the heat in stride. The driver who also wears the hats of team owner and tuner was out of the gate with a good hand for the conditions and laid his cards on the table in the first qualifying round with a solid 3.941, 320.81. It was good for the No. 3 spot and a bonus point as third-quickest of the session.
Round two of qualifying was where Wilk put his best foot forward, picking up the pace and clocking a 3.895-second pass at 321.12 mph that was low of the round and brought in another three bonus marks.
Saturday’s mixed bag of results included a 4.858 as the team tested in preparation for Sunday, and in the final session his ‘chutes popped early and was slowed to a 5.264. Wilk remains confident heading into eliminations, despite predicted conditions which don’t leave much room to rely on previously accumulated data.
“Tomorrow will be a different day, and we’ll see how it all works,” said Wilkerson. “I’m just going to concentrate on going down the track. We should be alright, but it’s going to come down to making the right decisions, plain and simple. We’re on a pretty good roll, and we’d sure like to keep that going.”
Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang
Qualifying position: No. 3
Q1: 3.941-second at 320.81 mph (No. 3, +1 bonus point)
Q2: 3.895, 321.12 (No. 2, +3 bonus points)
Q3: 4.858, 160.75 (No. 3)
Q4: 5.264, 111.50 (No. 3)
First round opponent: Blake Alexander
Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil
Houston Raceway Park, Baytown, Texas
April 12-14, 2019
Run Schedule (all times local)
Sunday, April 14
10:00 a.m. – Pre-race ceremonies
11:00 a.m. – Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro eliminations begin,
eliminations for all categories continue
#NHRAonFOX Television Schedule (all times ET)
Qualifying / Sunday – 2-3 PM ET / FS1
Finals / Sunday – 3-5 PM ET / FOX
#NHRAin60 / Sunday – 6-7 PM ET / FS1
*Find detailed results at DragRaceCentral.com*