CONCORD Tim Wilkerson barely qualified for the National Hot Rod Association’s Countdown to the Championship. Now he’s trying to make the most of his spot in the Funny Car postseason.
Wilkerson is the No. 1 qualifier as the O’Reilly Nationals head into Sunday’s finals at zMax Dragway. Other top qualifiers for Sunday included Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel Dragster), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock motorcycle).
A week ago at Indianapolis, Wilkerson made it to the finals, losing against Mike Neff. That was enough for Wilkerson to slip into the 10th and final countdown spot, despite being penalized 10 points for dropping oil on the track.
“Whenever you can start the countdown with the No. 1 qualifier, that’s a good start,” said Wilkerson. “This weekend feels like we’re just starting over, although we’re starting 10th instead of all even. We need to put it all behind us. It doesn’t matter what happened in the first 16 races.”
Langdon beat out Spencer Massey for the top spot in the Top Fuel Dragster division. The countdown’s top seed, Antron Brown, is 10th and will face Khalid AlBalooshi in the first round.
Langdon’s first-round opponent is 81-year-old Chris Karemesines.
Nobile, a 20-year old from Melville, N.Y., wrested the No. 1 Pro Stock car qualifier spot from Jason Line. It was the first time since April 2010 – four races ago – that Line hasn’t been the top qualifier at zMax.
Nobile will go against No. 16 Lewis Worden in a first-round elimination Sunday, while Line faces No. 15 Frank Gugliotta.
Hines, from Brownsburg, Ind., edged teammate and another Brownsburg racer, Eddie Krawiec, for the top spot by 2/1,000ths of a second (6.851 to 6.853). Hines faces LE Tonglet in a first-round race Sunday, while Krawiec, the points leader heading into the countdown, races Chip Ellis in the first round.
Krawiec (six) Hines (four), teammates at Vance & Hines Harley Davidson, combined to win all 10 races on the motorcycle circuit this season.