Tim Wilkerson ended a year-long 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 4.146sec run at 300.53mph 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.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues Aug. 18-21 with the 30th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway, the penultimate event in the regular season.
Final finish order (1-16) for professional categories at the 24th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways. The race is the 14th of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
1. Del Worsham; 2. Tony Schumacher; 3. Antron Brown; 4. Spencer Massey; 5. Larry Dixon; 6. Brandon Bernstein; 7. Shawn Langdon; 8. Doug Kalitta; 9. Bob Vandergriff; 10. Steven Chrisman; 11. Troy Buff; 12. Morgan Lucas; 13. Ron Smith; 14. David Grubnic; 15. Scott Palmer; 16. Terry McMillen.
1. Tim Wilkerson; 2. Jack Beckman; 3. Robert Hight; 4. Matt Hagan; 5. Ron Capps; 6. Bob Tasca III; 7. Tony Pedregon; 8. John Force; 9. Melanie Troxel; 10. Brian Thiel; 11. Jeff Diehl; 12. Jeff Arend; 13. Johnny Gray; 14. Mike Neff; 15. Gary Densham; 16. Cruz Pedregon.
1. Jason Line; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Erica Enders; 4. Rodger Brogdon; 5. V. Gaines; 6. Vincent Nobile; 7. Allen Johnson; 8. Mike Edwards; 9. Larry Morgan; 10. Shane Gray; 11. Ronnie Humphrey; 12. Greg Stanfield; 13. Kurt Johnson; 14. Warren Johnson; 15. Ron Krisher.