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Tim Wilkerson Misses Out on Illinois Sweep with Early Loss at NHRA Midwest Nationals

NHRA Funny Car veteran Tim Wilkerson was aiming for a second win in his home state of Illinois this season at the NHRA Midwest Nationals but fell short of his goal on race day. Wilkerson has had previous success at World Wide Technology Raceway, the home track for the Maynard Wilkerson Racing SCAG Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang Funny Car team, including two runner-up finishes and a 2008 event win.
 
Wilkerson, who won the event in Joliet, Ill. near Chicago earlier this year, started the weekend off with a strong pass in the opening qualifying session when he posted a run of 3.982 seconds at 321.04-MPH on Friday night. He followed that on Saturday with a qualifying effort of 4.017 seconds at 317.27, which held up to be the best E.T. of the session, earning him three bonus points in the process. When qualifying concluded, the team was in the 10th position and matched with fellow championship contender Ron Capps in the first round.
 
In eliminations, Wilkerson was looking for a win light versus Capps, but his opponent’s quicker reaction time enabled him to cross the finish line beams first, with Capps’ 3.998 E.T. defeating Wilkerson’s quicker 3.977-second run.  
 
“I had a good car today. It was a long light, and I missed it. That’s all there was to it, but I’m proud of my guys,” said Wilkerson, a two-time winner in 2023. “It was the best run we’ve made all weekend, and in the worst lane of the day, just unbelievable to go out in that way. It was the best we could do and we’ll try and make it up at the next one.”
 
The Springfield, Ill. native had a large contingency of supporters during the weekend as long-time partner Levi, Ray & Shoup (LRS) brought over 1,500 fans to celebrate the conclusion of their partnership, which spans more than two decades.

“Unbelievable how one guy could support another guy for that many years. It’s spectacular. Dick Levi has been a part of our family, watched my kids grow up. He helped Daniel in 2007 win his Alcohol Funny Car championship in Division 3 by sponsoring him,” continued Wilkerson. “We’ve just been so lucky to have Dick Levi in our lives. All the employees at LRS, they use this program as a good marketing tool. We’ve had a ton of customers come out over the years. The salesmen tell me that we’ve sold things for them and made deals for them. It’s been a spectacular 24 years.”
 
NHRA returns to action Oct. 12 – 15 at the Texas Motorplex for the Texas NHRA FallNationals, the fourth race in the six-event Countdown to the Championship series. Wilkerson will begin the Ennis, Texas race ranked seventh in the standings.

This story was originally published on October 2, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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