Tim Wilkerson, who broke a five-year win drought with a huge win at the Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals two weeks ago, put some icing on that cake by winning again at the DeWalt NHRA Carolina Nationals, turning back Cruz Pedregon in the final round, 3.92 to 3.94 Wilk, still smarting from a round-oneloss last weekend in Reading, did it shorthanded after a number of injuries suffered by his crew n the last week.
"There was tremendous pressure today; a crazy, crazy day," he admitted it. "You know, it started out pretty good run first round and went down the track just like I wanted to and from there kind of went bizarre. We barely made it to the rounds in the semis in the finals. I'm very proud of my guys. We were thrashing I was out there, changing the tires and putting motors in. Lord, I'm worn out, I can tell you.
"On a good note, sometimes there's too much time to stare at the thing and make changes. And today I made wholesale changes and live with them, and it worked out."
Wilkerson earned what many thought would be a crucial final-round lance choice with the Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang after besting Ron Capps in the semifinals with a 3.909 but Pedregon was able to successfully navigate the less-favored right lane to keep it close, but not enough to keep Wilkerson from his 23rd career win, 22 of which have come in Funny Car.
Before that beating Capps in the semifinals, Wilkerson took down Bob Tasca III with a 3.93 and low qualifier John Force by just .002-second in round two, 3.95 to a holeshot-aided 3.97.
Ironically, Wilkerson also beat the trio of Force, Pedregon. and Capps en route to his Indy win.
Pedregon, celebrating his 58th birthday on raceday, rode his special-edition Snap-on Tools/Socket To Cancer Dodge to a trio of three-second passes en route to the final round, the 79th of his Funny Car career. The two-time world champ qualified his John Collins-tuned machine No. 4 then raced his way past Dave Richards, J.R. Todd, and Alexis DeJoria with passes of 3.903, 3.962, and 3.959.