Wilkerson, Schumacher, Line collect trophies from NHRA in Florida


Tim Wilkerson dominated the Funny Car brackets to take the class win at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., on Sunday.
It may have taken him a little while, but Tim Wilkerson is back in the groove.

The popular driver of the Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang Funny Car beat Bob Tasca in Sunday finals to win the 41st-annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

"It been a great weekend," Wilkerson said. "I look back at the whole round of eliminations and nobody went down the track against me. I definitely had the mojo going on."

Other winners on Sunday were Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel and Jason Line in Pro Stock.

Heading into Sunday's eliminations, Wilkerson had yet to win a round. Now he's won four straight and has a shiny new trophy for his collection. He's seeing shades of his breakout season of 2008, when he was a title contender right to the end.

"The car went down the track every run this weekend," Wilkerson said. "If you can do that, you are learning. That is my '08 car, and the ol' girl acts just like she did in '08. So I'm pumped now."

Wilkerson ran a 4.097-second pass at 303.78 mph against the Tasca and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang, which crossed the line in 4.192 seconds at 287.17 mph.

Line, who didn't make it into the field until the final qualifying session, beat Mike Edwards, who has ruled the Pro Stock class with an iron fist of late, and it took a holeshot to get it done.

"We started off awful and didn't think we were even going to qualify," Line said. "We got it done somehow."

Line got the Summit Racing Pontiac off the starting line 0.056 second ahead of Edwards, who drives the Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac. Line would need every part of that half-second edge as Edwards would run his lap in 6.556 seconds at 211.16 mph, but Line crossed the finish before Edwards despite a slower elapsed time of 6.580 seconds at 210.14 mph.

"The only way to beat Mike right now is with your left foot," Line said. "He's got so much horsepower you can't do it with your right, he's got it covered. He left us a little bit of room, and we managed to get it done somehow."

Schumacher guided the U.S. Army dragster past teammate Antron Brown's Matco Tools dragster. Schumacher ran a 3.797-second pass at 322.04 mph in the final to Brown's tire-smoking 6.632-second pass at 101.17 mph to win the Gatornationals for the fourth time in his career.

"We changed the fuel system, the blower and a little bit of the clutch to get our [starting] lights back because they have been miserable," Schumacher said. "You can't go out and win races like that. We're all running too close and having awesome battles."

The NHRA next takes to the track at ZMax Dragway outside Charlotte, N.C., with the Four Wide Nationals, March 26-28.