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Wilkerson’s Big Season Continues

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 1 2016
Tim Wilkerson is on the Funny Car pole in Baytown. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Garry Eller)

Tim Wilkerson is on the Funny Car pole in Baytown. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Garry Eller)


Tim Wilkerson rode a personal-best elapsed time to the pole position in Funny Car as qualifications concluded Saturday for the 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals. 

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also locked-up No. 1 positions in their respective categories during the sixth event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas.

Wilkerson, who won his second race of the season last Sunday in the unique Four-Wide event at Concord, N.C., earned the 18th pole of his career via his Friday night 1,000-foot performance of 3.899-seconds at 327.59 mph. Wilkerson’s run is a personal-best and track-record elapsed time. This is his first pole since the race at zMAX Dragway in North Carolina in September 2012. Wilkerson will face Jim Campbell in Sunday’s first round of eliminations.

“We’re excited about how the season has started, of course,” said Wilkerson, driver of the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang. “Hopefully we can continue our string from Charlotte (last weekend) and not get beaten in any of the eliminations rounds. It’s been a great day and a great weekend so far. Going to try and cap it off and bring home another Wally.”

Texan Alexis DeJoria sits second with a 3.910-second pass at 324.90 mph in her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry, also posted Friday night. DeJoria will face John Hale in Sunday’s opening round. Courtney Force and her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS qualified third and will face Bob Bode.

Reigning Funny Car world champion Del Worsham raised the Royal Purple Raceway track speed record to 328.06 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry and qualified fourth. He will face Todd Simpson Sunday morning. Current Funny Car point-leader and 2009 world champion Robert Hight is fifth and will face 2012 world champ Jack Beckman to open eliminations.

In Top Fuel, Torrence claimed his fourth pole of the season and third in-a-row with his track-record 1,000-foot elapsed time of 3.724-seconds at 329.42 mph, posted Friday in his Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition dragster. This is the ninth pole of the Texan’s career. Torrence, who won the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., will face Rob Passey in the opening round.

“We’re showing off with some Texas boys doing good,” said Torrence, a native of nearby Kilgore. “I’m hoping this green hat (as No. 1 qualifier) doesn’t curse us tomorrow like it has the last two races. We‘re going to try and change our luck on Sunday, go a couple rounds and see if we can leave here with a Wally.

“Everything has gone perfect in qualifying. We haven’t been able to carry that into race day every time and kind of stumped our toe a few times.”

Doug Kalitta held onto the second spot in his Mac Tools dragster with a 3.743-second pass at 324.36 mph and will face Terry Haddock in Round 1. Clay Millican, bidding for his first Top Fuel victory, is third and will meet recent Phoenix-area winner Leah Pritchett, who has reunited with her Bob Vandergriff Racing team for this event. 

In Pro Stock, Anderson powered to his third pole position of the season and 83rd of his career with a quarter-mile pass of 6.589-seconds at 210.41 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro.  The four-time world champion will have a bye in the first round of eliminations, as only 13 cars entered the event near Houston. Anderson will face the winner of the Vincent Nobile vs. Alex Laughlin matchup in the second round. 

“We ran great (Friday),” said Anderson, a two-time SpringNationals winner. “We made some serious changes today and still ran great. It’s a good feeling and we have the data that I think we need no matter what the weather brings (Sunday).”

Line, the current point-leader and Anderson’s Ken Black Racing teammate, qualified inside the top two for the sixth time this season at 6.590-seconds and 210.28 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro. Line will face veteran V. Gaines in the first round in pursuit of his fourth Wally of 2016. 

Anderson and Line’s teammate, Bo Butner, qualified third and will line-up against Aaron Strong in Sunday’s first round.  Two-time/reigning world champion Erica Enders, a native of Houston, remained in the sixth position and will face fellow-Texan Chris McGaha Sunday. Enders will have the chance to earn her third consecutive win at Royal Purple Raceway. 

Eliminations are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Sunday. Fox Sports 1 will televise three hours of finals coverage Sunday at 5 p.m. (EDT).


First-round pairings for Sunday’s eliminations at the 29th annual SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway, the sixth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based upon results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

 Top Fuel _ 1. Steve Torrence, 3.724-seconds, 329.42 mph vs. 16. Rob Passey, broke; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.743, 324.36 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, broke; 3. Clay Millican, 3.743, 323.12 vs. 14. Leah Pritchett, 6.305, 139.20; 4. Richie Crampton, 3.752, 314.31 vs. 13. Scott Palmer, 4.028, 254.62; 5. Antron Brown, 3.753, 321.58 vs. 12. J.R. Todd, 3.889, 300.53; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.760, 325.06 vs. 11. Troy Buff, 3.870, 311.70; 7. Brittany Force, 3.761, 307.30 vs. 10. Kebin Kinsley, 3.870, 310.05; 8. Tony Schumacher, 3.766, 322.19 vs. 9. Terry McMillen, 3.819, 314.02.

 Funny Car _ 1. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.899, 327.59 vs. 16. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 11.346, 79.01; 2. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.910, 324.90 vs. 15. John Hale, Charger, 6.646, 99.19; 3. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.915, 320.66 vs. 14. Bob Bode, Toyota Solara, 6.132, 157.47; 4. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.923, 328.06 vs. 13. Todd Simpson, Camaro, 4.224, 293.86; 5. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.953, 324.98 vs. 12. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.123, 262.64; 6. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.953, 321.27 vs. 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.049, 307.16; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.969, 315.56 vs. 10. John Force, Camaro, 4.005, 322.11; 8. Chad Head, Camry, 3.972, 315.86 vs. 9. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.982, 327.43.

 Pro Stock _ 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.589, 210.70 vs. Bye; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.590, 210.28 vs. 13. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.968, 208.07; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.623, 209.88 vs. 12. Aaron Strong, Camaro, 6.683, 207.21; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.632, 209.01 vs. 11. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.655, 208.10; 5. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.635, 208.97 vs. 10. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.653, 209.07; 6. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.635, 209.14 vs. 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.646, 208.39; 7. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.639, 208.49 vs. 8. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.644, 209.07.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 1 2016
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