Tim Wilkerson drove to his first Funny Car win in more than five years at the US Nationals on Sunday. (Photo by Kent Steele)
CLERMONT, Ind. – Tim Wilkerson had not won an NHRA Funny Car race in over five years. On Sunday he won the biggest race of all.
Wilkerson ended his drought with a win at the 67th Annual Dodge // SRT NHRA US Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
He was supported on the winning road by Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). It was also the last race of the regular season before the countdown to the championship playoffs begins.
Wilkerson, who last won in 2016, drove his 11,000 horsepower Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang to 3.912 seconds at 320.36 mph on the final lap, denying Ron Capps his maiden win at the US Nationals. Wilkerson took his second Indy win and his 21st career win, finishing in the winning lap for the first time in 114 races.
Wilkerson passed Bobby Bode, John Force and Cruz Pedregon on his way to the final lap, where he sped past Capps early in the run and took the long-awaited win. After his memorable weekend at Big Go, he will open the playoffs in ninth place on points and with a lot of momentum.
“We go out there and drive the car and drive the lane,” said Wilkerson. “Capps has used me up for the last 2-3 years. He cheered me every time in the final. We have a good car, we did well at Brainerd and today I made sure that I drive on the track. In the final I ran like a night run. My boys do such a great job and there is a lot of emotion in it. I am really proud of her. This place and me, we have a good relationship and it always treats me well. “
Capps defeated Justin Schreiber, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria to reach the finals for the fourth time this season and the 129th time overall. With his strong performance, he jumped into the points before the playoffs, with Force in second place.
Torrence’s incredible campaign continued in Indy when he shot past the Brittany Force on the final lap with an impressive 3.749 second run at 324.44 mph in his 11,000 horsepower Capco Contractors Dragster. This brought the league leader and three-time defending champion his eighth win in 13 races of the season and the 48th in his career as well as his second win at the US Nationals. Torrence made the final lap by knocking out Antron Brown, Greg Carrillo and his father Billy Torrence before easily dispatching the number 1 Qualifier Force when it went up in smoke early in the run.
It’s another formidable moment for Torrence trying to win his fourth consecutive world title.
“It was just a great day of racing and it is amazing to say that you won Indy and made it twice in Top Fuel, it is the top race in our sport,” said Steve Torrence. “That was a great weekend and there were really good races today. We are so blessed to win eight races this season. We’re approaching (the countdown) one lap at a time and one race at a time and I’ll lean on my boys and they’ll lean on me and we’ll see what we can do. “
Brittany Force, who will start the countdown to the championship as Torrences main competition and runner-up on points, defeated Shawn Langdon, Alex Laughlin and Josh Hart to reach the finals for the fourth time this season and the 27th time of her career.
Erica Enders scored another win at the US Nationals in Pro Stock. (Photo by Kent Steele)
Enders’ Indy dominance continued impressively on Sunday when she won the Big Go for the second year in a row by slipping past Kyle Koretsky on the final lap in her Melling Performance / Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with a holeshot. Enders drove 6.626 seconds at 206.01 mph on the final lap, with her 0.024 reaction time making the difference to beating Koretsky’s 6.613 second pass at 206.35 mph. It gives Enders her third win of the season, the third at Indy in 32nd place of her career.
The defending champion and consecutive world champion beat Bruno Massel, Matt Hartford and championship leader Greg Anderson and reached the finals of the US Nationals for the third time in a row. Now she wants to win her third world title in a row and Enders will start from second place in the playoffs.
“I had a really great car all day,” said Enders. “To win this in consecutive years this is a great way to get into the countdown. We just have to keep it going, but it’s really humbling to take a step back and see what we’ve accomplished in a short amount of time. Getting the 2020 win and putting it in the winners’ circle today felt good this morning. Being victorious at the end of the day makes everything else go away. That means a lot and it’s our Super Bowl. “
Koretsky’s impressive rise in the late season continued as he rose to his second straight finals with wins over Larry Morgan, Chris McGaha and rookie Dallas Glenn. Koretsky will open the playoffs in fourth, while Anderson will keep the points lead before the countdown to the championship.
Krawiec had an impressive weekend at the ideal time, claiming his first win of the season by beating Vance & Hines teammate Angelle Sampey on the final lap with a run of 6.844 seconds at 198.58 mph on his Buell. Krawiec qualified as No. 1 for the first time this season and then entered the winners’ circle for the 49th time in his outstanding career. He also won the Big Go for a third time, defeating teammates Andrew Hines, Michael Phillips and Joey Gladstone to reach the final round. He raced past Sampey and seems to be rolling at the perfect time and thanks to his enormous Indy performance goes into the playoffs on points in fourth place.
“It was a little bit of luck, a little bit of good, and hopefully things just get in your way,” said Krawiec. “We came straight out of the trailer on motorcycle number 1 and the second lap was my lucky round. On the last lap I knew we had to be good and I was just excited. We’re back in (class) and that feels good. Getting two team bikes in the final round was something special. This is a real win for Vance & Hines and it’s really cool to do for everyone. It’s just great to get that. “
Sampey reached the final round for the second consecutive year and the 76th time in her career, defeating Cory Reed, Steve Johnson and defending champion Scotty Pollacheck. Defending champion Matt Smith will move into the playoffs with a point lead and Johnson is second.