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Daniel Wilkerson Makes Semifinal Appearance to Lead SCAG Racing at Route 66 Nationals

Daniel Wilkerson and the SCAG Power Equipment Ford Mustang Funny Car battled their way to the semifinals Sunday at the Gerber Glass & Collision Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway just outside of Chicago.

Coming into race day qualified No. 9, Wilkerson, crew chiefed by his father Tim, started eliminations with a win over veteran and former champion Cruz Pedregon. Both Funny Cars would haze the tires, but Wilkerson would get to the finish line first at 4.222 seconds and 231.36 mph while Pedregon followed at 4.517 and 194.30. In the second round, Wilkerson would face off with points leader, Austin Prock.

Wilkerson came up with the win on a 4.086 second pass at 314.39 mph better Prock’s 4.109 at 305.01 after he put a hole out. The win put Wilkerson against 16-time champion and eventual runner-up John Force in the semifinals. Wilkerson handled his SCAG Ford to a 4.076 at 309.98 but it wasn’t enough for Force’s 3.987 at 317.94.  

“It’s been a wild weekend. Between blowing up on Friday and having all the SCAG employees and dealers on Saturday and making the semifinals today, it’s been eventful. I think we learned some things and we’ll only get better,” Wilkerson said. “It’s been fun, we had a lot of support out here with it being a home race for myself with my family being here and for it being a home race for SCAG with Metalcraft of Mayville not too far away either. I am proud to be part of this team and for the opportunity we get to come out here and play with race cars.”

After winning the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge on Saturday, Justin Ashley and the SCAG Power Equipment Toyota Top Fuel dragster team entered race day in the No. 14 spot to face reigning world champion Doug Kalitta in the first round. Ashley would send the champ packing on a hole shot with a .044 reaction time and 3.827-second pass at 320.20 mph. Kalitta had a .088 reaction time to go with his 3.790 pass at 330.15.

In the second round, Ashley would face eventual race winner Antron Brown. Ashley would have the advantage on the tree but smoke the tires to go only 5.081 seconds at 163.59 mph while Brown had a clean 3.891 at 315.93.

“Ultimately, we came up short on Sunday, but it gives us extra motivation to perform at a high level in Epping. When you look at the weekend as is a hole, I thought it was very successful on and off the racetrack. We won the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge in front of our hometown crowd and collected a few championship points along the way,” Ashley said. “It was an honor to have everyone from Metalcraft of Mayville and SCAG Power Equipment join us at the racetrack throughout the weekend. Whether they are here or at home, we are always Racing on their behalf and as representatives for them and all that they do. I am so proud to be affiliated with this organization and have teammates like Daniel Wilkerson and Dave Richards. The focus is on achieving success together and that’ll always remain the same.”

Dave Richards and the Versatran / BlueBird hot rod entered race day from the No. 15 spot. Against first round opponent Bob Tasca III, Richards would have his quickest pass of the weekend when he crossed the finish line at 4.204 seconds and 280.31 mph, unfortunately it wouldn’t be enough to defeat Tasca’s 3.980 at 327.11.

“This Versatran / BlueBird Funny Car team just continues to make progress. First goal of the weekend is to get ourselves qualified and we got that done, then of course we’d like to turn on a few win lights but if we can’t do that, we want to see our performance improve. We didn’t get the first-round win, but our performance did improve, and if Tasca had run into trouble, we would have gotten the win. So, it’s not a bad weekend. We’ll just keep chipping away at it,” Richards said. “It was a good weekend with all the SCAG employees and dealers that came out. Enjoyed watch my teammates Justin and Daniel go some rounds today. I think we’re all looking forward to heading to Epping.”

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Ashley continues to lead the Top Fuel points standings while Wilkerson moved up to sixth in Funny Car and Richards stays 15th, just two points behind the No. 14 spot.

The SCAG Racing team continue the Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season with the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H. May 31-June 2.

This story was originally published on May 20, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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