BAYTOWN, Texas — Tim Wilkerson knew about the streak at the most recent NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, just like he did last year at Royal Purple Raceway when he advanced to the final round. But with a 60-race winless streak dating back to Seattle in 2011, Wilkerson is eager to put the drought to rest.
The driver of the 8,000-horsepower Levi Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang gets his next opportunity to end the streak at the 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries, April 25-27, at Royal Purple Raceway.
Wilkerson is well-aware of the near misses, close defeats, bad luck and whatever else that has kept him out of the winner’s circle for far too long, but he remains confident that the next victory, which would be the 18th in his successful career, is coming soon.
“I absolutely feel like we have a lot of momentum going and I’ve felt it building for a couple of races now,” said Wilkerson, who advanced to the final foursome at the recent Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. “In Charlotte, I felt pretty good going in and basically the car did everything it was supposed to do until we hopped it up for the final round. We felt we had to roll the dice and run our best number of the weekend. Instead, we were the ones who messed up. Other than that, we have a good car and the team is clicking.”
Bob Vandergriff (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event at one of the circuit’s quickest and fastest tracks.
In all, Wilkerson has four final round appearances since his last victory, but just making it to finals last year in Houston was an adventure. With ESPN2 broadcasting live during the semifinals and finals, teams worked through tighter turnaround times. That presented a strong challenge to Wilkerson, who qualified second, and his young team, but with a little assistance they came through in that regard.
The only down note was falling to Pedregon in the finals as the two-time world champion won for the third time in Houston.
“As soon as I heard about (the tighter turnaround times) I said ‘Well, I guess that guarantees that we’ll be in the final’ because our young crew was still really inexperienced at the time and I didn’t think there was any way we could make it,” Wilkerson said. “Sure enough, we really ran great there and went right to the final. Fortunately, the entire (Funny Car driver Bob) Tasca team was waiting for us in our pit when we got back after winning our semifinal, and without them I’m not sure we could’ve done it. I wanted to win that one so bad for my guys, who really worked their butts off all weekend and all day on Sunday. I wish it would’ve worked out.”