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Tim Wilkerson Advances to Second Round at NHRA U.S. Nationals

Two-time NHRA U.S. Nationals winner Tim Wilkerson battled hard for a late-round finish at the prestigious Indy race, but his SCAG Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang Funny Car ran into traction issues in the second round of eliminations on Monday. On the hot Indianapolis Raceway Park surface, Wilkerson raced side-by-side with Robert Hight before tire smoke ended the race.
 
Wilkerson had to fight his way down the track in the first two qualifying sessions before throwing down a 3.945-second pass in the third session on Saturday. That run gave Wilkerson two bonus points for making the third-quickest pass of the session. The Illinois driver ended up No. 8 by the time all five qualifying sessions were completed on Sunday.
 
Wilkerson went into Monday’ eliminations with plenty of Indy history on his side. The Maynard Wilkerson Racing driver reached his first Funny Car final round at Indy in 1997, while his most recent Indy final round in 2021 ended with the win. With 30 round wins at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Wilkerson was ranked third at the facility in the Funny Car round-wins category going into his first-round match with Chad Green.
 
It was a father-son battle between Wilkerson and son Daniel Wilkerson, who is Green’s crew chief. Green grabbed a holeshot advantage, but Wilkerson’s 3.913-second pass was enough to get around Green and his 3.989 E.T. The round-win tied Wilkerson and Green in head-to-head competition at four wins each. In the second round, Wilkerson tried to power past Robert Hight, but he got out of the groove and lost traction near the 660-foot cone.
 
“In the first round, we pretty much did what I wanted to do there – just make a nice run and go down the track,” Wilkerson said. “The track didn’t change a whole lot from first to second round. Our SCAG Mustang, when it hit the tire, it washed hard and pulled me out of the groove to the left. When I drug it back, it came loose.”
 
The U.S. Nationals marked the end of the NHRA Camping World Series regular season. Wilkerson will take advantage of a brief break in the schedule to prepare for the six-race Countdown to the Championship where he will start from the eighth seed.
 
“We’re going to take the car home and scale it and make sure everything is good to go there and it isn’t crooked or bent or not scaled properly, but it’s working real well,” Wilkerson said. “Hopefully we can do what we did first round the next few weekends. We get the points reset and we’ll see if we can keep them on their tails.”
 
The first race of the Countdown portion of the season is the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, Sept. 15-17, at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa.

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