The first five Funny Car events of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series belonged to only two drivers in 2023, as Matt Hagan and Robert Hight combined to win all five races to open the year. Tim Wilkerson changed that in Chicago, and he’ll look to keep rolling this weekend at New England Dragway for the 10th annual NHRA New England Nationals.
Wilkerson will be looking for his first victory at the fan-favorite facility, but he’s entering with as much momentum as he’s had this season in his 11,000-horsepower Scag Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang.
He picked up the first Funny Car win for the JCM team in Chicago and earned his first victory in 33 races, vaulting up to fifth in points in the process. It was a strong move for Wilkerson, who hopes it’s a sign of things to come this weekend in Epping.
“We’re feeling really good about the direction our team is headed rolling into this stretch of races during the summer months,” Wilkerson said. “Even before Chicago, we saw an uptick in our performance. We had started to qualify better, and we were more consistent overall. Obviously, winning Chicago was a major boost for our team, and we’re hoping to carry that momentum into this weekend at the New England Nationals. I’m proud of this Scag/LRS team, and let’s see if we can’t go back-to-back and get another win up in Epping."
Mike Salinas (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) were last year’s winners in Epping. This season’s race will again be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday. It is the seventh of 21 races during the 2023 season, and Wilkerson will have the chance for two victories this weekend. He’s also competing in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, which adds competitive racing to the Saturday schedule.
He’ll face John Force in a semifinal rematch from Chicago, while Chad Green will race Ron Capps. The two winners will close out qualifying to earn bonus points and a bonus purse, while it also introduces the possible scenario of Wilkerson racing against his son, Daniel, who is the crew chief on Green’s team.
Green, who is sixth in points, won the challenge in Pomona in what has been a breakout season for him, and Wilkerson would love a chance to race for that scenario to play out in the final round on Saturday.
“It would be wonderful,” Wilkerson said. “We consult after every run, and I knew that car would be good. Every part on that car is off my car from last year. After tuning Chad up for a year and getting him used to driving, he’s spectacular now. I’m real proud of my kid and that whole team. We spend every day of the week trying to make our cars better and more consistent. We’re pretty excited about things.”
Others to watch in Funny Car include points leader Hagan, who has four Epping wins, Hight, Alexis DeJoria, area native Bob Tasca III, and Cruz Pedregon.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, June 2 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 3 at 2 and 5:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, June 4. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, 9 p.m. on Saturday, and then eliminations action at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday.
To purchase tickets to the NHRA New England Nationals, fans can visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Children 12 and under are free in general admission with the purchase of an adult ticket.