Tim Wilkerson ended a yearlong winless drought by racing to his third consecutive O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals Funny Car victory Sunday at Pacific Raceways.
Del Worsham (Top Fuel) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also were winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Wilkerson moved up to ninth in the point standings with his 17th career victory and greatly improved his chances for earning a berth in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs which begin Sept. 15-18 in Charlotte, N.C.
Wilkerson powered his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang to a 4.146 second run at 300.53 mph to defeat final round opponent Jack Beckman, whose Aaron’s/Valvoline Dodge Charger lost traction near mid-track and finished in 4.598 at 238.64.
Wilkerson beat Brian Thiel, Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight to advance to his second consecutive final round and third of the season.
“We’ve really got a good handle on this place for sure,” said Wilkerson, who also won here in 2009 and 2010. “This win really couldn’t come at a better time for this team. Hopefully we can stay on this roll and take it on to Brainerd and right into Indy (Mac Tools U.S. Nationals). This win is definitely a big morale boost for my team and really helps our position in the Countdown for sure.”
Wilkerson moved to ninth in the standings with the win, while points leader Mike Neff lost in the first round, but holds a 125-point advantage over teammate Hight.
In Top Fuel, Worsham earned his sixth victory of the season and 31st of his career by outrunning Tony Schumacher in the final round. Worsham, who posted a 3.891 at 316.38 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to hold of Schumacher’s 3.915 at 313.95 in his U.S. Army dragster, joined Ron Capps as the only drivers to win in both nitro categories at the Seattle track.
Worsham, who beat Ron Smith, Shawn Langdon and Spencer Massey in the first three rounds, won Funny Car here in 1999.
“It’s been unreal,” said Worsham, who extended his series points lead to 126 over second place Massey. “To watch this Al-Anabi team work is amazing. They gave me a great car that could win. This team is so detail oriented and just really good at what they do.”
Line took his fourth Pro Stock win of the season and 25th of his career by beating teammate Greg Anderson in the final round. Line covered the distance in 6.553 at 210.87 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to finish in front of defending world champ Anderson, who trailed with a 6.567 at 211.13, also in a Summit GXP.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Line, who beat Ron Krisher, Vincent Nobile and Rodger Brogdon in earlier rounds. “I had a great feeling that if I did my job today that we had a car that could win this race. We made some changes to the car from Sonoma and it ran good all weekend. It was phenomenal. I was able to let the clutch out on time today and it worked out for us.”
With the victory, Line increased his series lead to 27 over Anderson.
Several drivers secured Countdown playoff berths, including Hight, Beckman and Cruz Pedregon in Funny Car, and Nobile, Erica Enders, Allen Johnson, Brogdon and Greg Stanfield in Pro Stock.
Antron Brown raced to the No. 1 position in Top Fuel Saturday to close qualifying at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, the final stop of the three-race Western Swing.
Brown, who won his third race of the season last weekend in Sonoma, Calif., claimed his first top qualifying effort of the year and 27th of his career with a performance of 3.809 seconds at 321.58 mph in his Matco Tools dragster.
“Our team really never worries about No. 1, but it’s good for the points,” said Brown, who hopes to improve on his third place points position with a win tomorrow. “We just have to come in and focus on race day because that is where all the points are made up. That’s where we need to focus — on being consistent, fast and quick. Our Top Fuel class by all measures is tough and all the guys are swinging at the fence. You have five teams that have already clinched for the Countdown and we’re within two hundred points of each other. You don’t get any closer than that. That’s just a tribute to our sport and how everyone is rising up to the occasion.”
Series points leader Del Worsham qualified second in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.823 at 321.65 and Spencer Massey was third in his FRAM/Prestone dragster with a 3.845 at 319.67.
In Funny Car, two-time defending event winner Wilkerson took his first No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and 16th of his career by powering his Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang to a run of 4.109 at 303.71. His run denied John Force the top spot and the 15-time world champ dropped to second in the order with a 4.115 at a track record speed of 308.85 in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.
“It’s been a little bit of dismal season so far,” said Wilkerson, who was runner-up last weekend at Infineon Raceway but sits 10th in the point standings. “It’s been a struggle. It makes me feel good to see my crew smile a little bit. I am happy for those guys more than anything else. We’ve really done well on the Western Swing in the past. We couldn’t have come on at a better time, that’s for sure. We need to keep Johnny Gray behind us (in the point standings). I think we have a pretty good chance tomorrow and there are no gimmies for sure.”
Matt Hagan was third in his DieHard Dodge Charger with a 4.117 at 301.74 and Auto Club Mustang driver Robert Hight qualified fourth with a 4.125 at 306.26.
In Pro Stock, Anderson claimed his second No. 1 of the season and 75th of his career by posting a track record time of 6.536 at 211.26 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP.
“It’s another great day,” said Anderson, who also was a winner here last year. “These are definitely our type of conditions. This team seems to excel when you have good cool air like this. It seems to come into our game a little better. You need to make the hay on the tracks where you’re strong like here and Sonoma. We did well last week and finished the job and we need to go ahead and finish the job tomorrow and get the two Summit Pontiacs in the final, win the race, and take another trophy home.”
Anderson’s teammate Jason Line was second with a 6.538 at 211.20 in his Summit Racing GXP, while series points leader Mike Edwards is third in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries GXP with a 6.541 at 210.97.
Top Fuel points leader Del Worsham raced to the qualifying lead Friday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
John Force (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event near Seattle.
Worsham posted a 3.830 second run at 319.07 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to move into position to claim his fifth No. 1 qualifying position of the season if the performance holds through Saturday’s two qualifying sessions (11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.). Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.
“It’s a cool place to race, I love coming here,” Worsham said. “Tomorrow morning the conditions will be nice and overcast and I think somebody can run that good again. Hopefully it will be us or one of our teams. We saw Spencer (Massey) make a great run today as well. I really think someone could run quicker than that in the morning.”
Spencer Massey was second with a 3.845 at 319.67 in the FRAM/Prestone dragster and last week’s winner, Antron Brown, was third with a 3.849 at 318.54 in the Matco Tools dragster. Four-time event winner Tony Schumacher was fourth with a 3.856 at 317.05 in the U.S. Army dragster.
Force was quickest in Funny Car, posting a 4.124 at a track record speed of 304.87 mph in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Force’s time was well ahead of second place Jack Beckman, who posted a 4.201 at 298.67 in his Aaron’s/Valvoline Dodge Charger. Track conditions proved to be a bit challenging for the Funny Car teams as only six of the 18 cars posted runs in the four-second zone.
“We just have to adapt,” Force said. “It is going to be tricky. We were all excited this morning. We thought it was going to be gorilla and we would run big numbers. (Mike) Neff was trying to run 4.05 out of the box and then when he saw everyone in trouble he pulled it back and it still didn’t go. Tomorrow is a new day.”
Anderson, who won last weekend in Sonoma, Calif., continued his hot streak in Pro Stock by posting a leading run of 6.541 at 211.16 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP.
“We’re hitting our groove so to speak and our team is really working well together right now,” Anderson said. “In fact all three of our cars are running good right now. We’ve got a great chance the rest of the weekend. It’s a great first day. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. It’s certainly not over yet, there’s going to be fast runs in tomorrow morning’s session too. It wasn’t a perfect run. It was a little soft and smooth but it got the job done. Now we’ll just hope and pray we can hang on to number one.”
Mike Edwards posted a track record time of 6.541 seconds, and while it tied Anderson’s No. 1 mark, Edwards earned the track record because he posted that performance first. Anderson got the tie-breaker to earn the No. 1 position by virtue of his faster speed. Allen Johnson qualified seventh, but set the track speed record of 211.16 mph in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger.