Tim Wilkerson’s most recent low qualifier award was in Bristol in 2017, but on Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he reset the dial by securing the pole at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. His best time of 3.895-second at 323.50 mph recorded in the second session on Friday did the trick.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been No. 1 qualifier, but I kind of pull that out of my hat sometimes. It might take me a year or two, but I can get it done,” said Wilkerson with a wink. “In all seriousness, I’m really proud of how our LRS Ford Mustang runs. We qualified second in Gainesville and third the race before that in Phoenix. We’ve been knocking on the door.
“This is an exciting year for us, because it’s our 20th year with Levi, Ray and Shoup as our main sponsor. You always want to do well, but it’s really neat to be able to perform like this in such a special year.”
Wilkerson, who now has 20 No. 1 qualifier awards as a nitro Funny Car driver, gives much of the credit for his most recent coup to some off-season revamping that he and chassis builder Murf McKinney collaborated on.
“We front-halved the car last year; Murf and I changed it a little bit, and it’s really responding,” he explained. “We made some real subtle changes, and now it’s got good 60-foot times and is picking up well between the 330 and 660 clocks. I’m pretty proud of it.
“We need to figure out how to keep the monster calmed down a little bit, but I’m excited. But I think tomorrow the key is going to be who is consistent. The sun will be the great equalizer, and it’ll be interesting all day.”
Wilkerson will race Jeff Diehl, Shawn Langdon, and Robert Hight in the first quad on Sunday. Eliminations for the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will begin at noon Pacific Time at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.