WHAT: Feature story about Tim Wilkerson, in advance of this weekend’s race in Seattle
WHEN: Posted and “live” now
FRONT PAGE LINK: http://www.nhra.com
DIRECT LINK TO STORY: http://www.nhra.com/story/2012/7/31/wilkerson-seattle/
SONOMA, Calif. (July 24, 2012) — Over the course of the last three years, Tim Wilkerson has twice tuned and driven his Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby Mustang to the final round at Sonoma, on the fabled Western Swing. In 2009, he took home the Wally one week after winning in Seattle, and although he came up just a bit short last year, he used the runner-up performance to set himself up for another Seattle win, the following week. There’s something about the midsummer stop on the NHRA Full Throttle tour that sits well with Wilk.
This year, he arrives in Sonoma after an up-and-down pair of races, having earned a runner-up finish in Norwalk before dropping a disappointing first-round race in Denver. While still clearly in the Countdown playoff picture, Wilk’s Denver misfortune obviously put a bit of a greater challenge in front of him, as he attempts to crack the top ten at some point over the next four events. He is 70 points behind John Force, who currently sits 10th, but he is also within striking range of Bob Tasca (9th), who is 81 points ahead, and Jeff Arend (8th) who is 88 Full Throttle points ahead.
“We have four races left to make the Countdown, but this really isn’t a two-horse race at all,” Wilk said. “If we could get hot and reel off some round wins at the right time here, we could move all the way up to eighth, and seventh or sixth aren’t completely out of the question either. But, you know they say the longest trip starts with a single step, and that’s what this is. We have to win rounds, one at a time, and the first goal is to get to 10th place. If we do that, we can keep moving up, but there’s no reason to be thinking about any higher spots in the playoffs until we get to 10th.
“I’m happy to be going to Sonoma, because we have a lot of good history there and we love running on that track. We just missed winning it last year, and we had a heck of run in ’09 when the schedule was reversed and we won up in Seattle and then in Sonoma, back-to-back. Last year is still fresh in our minds because we actually came into the Western Swing in worse condition than we are now, points-wise. We had only won four rounds coming into Denver last year, but then we won seven rounds on the Swing, and that’s really what secured our playoff spot. It’s just getting hot at the right time, so the whole team is excited to get to Sonoma and see if we can’t do it again.”
Wilk also won Sonoma in 2004, adding to his cache at one of the most unique and scenic stops on the Full Throttle tour. Adding another “W” to his career list would obviously work wonders for his points position, while it would also help erase a challenging weekend in Denver, where the air was hot and the oxygen was sparse. The transition from racing on a mountain to racing near the north shore of San Francisco Bay is always a tough one, but Wilk’s history shows he has a way of making it happen.
“Denver is always tough, no matter what, but it was just blistering there last week, and it was hard on everyone,” Wilk said. “We’ve been battling the hot weather for a while now, and it takes its toll on the whole crew, believe me, but things are usually a little easier to deal with in Sonoma, so hopefully that’s the case. It can get hot there, for sure, but at least it almost always cools down as the sun sets, so that gives the guys a little bit of a recharge. I don’t think enough people understand just how hard the weather can be on crew guys. It wears them out, and when you’re physically exhausted it’s hard to be mentally sharp.
“We’re not in the best position, having to not only move up in the points but also knock someone else out of the Countdown group to do that, but we’re headed for Sonoma and that makes me smile. The whole Sonoma and Seattle segment of the schedule is about my favorite, not only because we’ve done so well at both tracks, but because it’s a gorgeous part of the country and it’s just a pleasure to be out there. Winning helps too, though. I’ll admit that.”
Qualifying for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals begins on Friday.
Here are the current points standings for the top 16 drivers in Funny Car, entering the Sonoma weekend:
2012 FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
1. Robert Hight (1,060)
2. Ron Capps (994)
3. Mike Neff (863)
4. Jack Beckman (862)
5. Johnny Gray (766)
6. Courtney Force (701)
7. Cruz Pedregon (680)
8. Jeff Arend (661)
9. Bob Tasca (654)
10. John Force (643)
11. Tim Wilkerson (573)
12. Alexis DeJoria (494)
13. Matt Hagan (491)
14. Tony Pedregon (383)
15. Bob Bode (373)
16. Jim Head (310)
The parts tumbler does a good job of cleaning smaller components. Some advantages of parts tumbling are:
As with glass beading and the airless blaster, care must be used to avoid damaging machined surfaces.
Parts Tumbling in the Auto Machine Shop
The most common usage of the tumbler in the auto shop is in cleaning valve train parts and smaller engine fasteners. When cleaning these parts, such as valves, you need media that has weight to it. Since you’re looking to abrade larger quantities of baked on carbon you would use Steel Diagonals. (Order No. PTM-20D). As the valves are tumbled, they are bombarded by the heavier media, removing the deposits. In this instance valve stem protection (VSP-16) must be used to prevent damage to polished stems.
Irregularly shaped parts such as valve springs, retainers, etc. clean well with Steel Ballcones (PTM-20BC) These are a lighter weight and clean without damaging valve springs and retainers.
Ceramic Diagonals (PTM-20CR) are our lightest media and used on soft materials such as brass and aluminum. Ceramic Diagonals work well with alternator and distributor housings.
We recommend you use Parts Tumbler Solution (PT-SOL) with all of these media. This solution softens deposits for easier removal and combines with removed deposits to carrying them to the sump area of the tumbler, releasing them there.
Together with the first two parts of this series, we’ve talked briefly about various methods for parts cleaning. As you can imagine, we’ve barely scratched the surface, but this should give you enough information to get started. Don’t forget, we have a full Technical Library that includes more information about parts cleaning. As always, if you have any questions about Parts Tumbler Media or which media to use for which part, contact the Goodson Tech Services Department at 1-800-533-8010 or shoot us an email.
We started a series on Cleaning Media in last week’s Tech Tip of the Week on Glass Beading We continue today with a look at Airless Blasters, their uses and which media to use for which process. Next week we’ll wrap up this 3-part series with a look at Parts Tumblers.
Parts cleaning with an Airless Blaster is less labor intensive than glass beading and is generally used following thermal cleaning. In other words, once you’ve “cooked” the parts in a thermal oven, you use blast media to remove the carbonized materials left over.
Select the correct media for the job
Goodson stocks three cleaning media or shot for different applications. The first is Steel Shot, used primarily for removing materials from cast iron or steel. Used in a conservative manner, is effective in removing baked carbon and rust. But remember, leaving parts in a blaster too long will compromise machined surfaces, including deck and bearing mounting bores. One big drawback to steel shot is that it will rust and leave a dark red finish on parts.
Stainless steel shot is also available, in conditioned and cut wire. This material is used primarily for aluminum parts. The stainless shot won’t rust like steel shot so it doesn’t leave the reddish finish on cleaned parts. It removes soil and oxidation and produces a like-new aluminum appearance.
Conditioned Stainless is simply shot that has been blasted into a hardened steel plate, leaving a spherical or ball shaped abrasive. Again short blast times are recommended to minimize distortion and surface damage to machined areas. Dry parts are an absolute necessity to maximize cleaning while minimizing labor time.
Cut Wire Stainless is used to clean the worst oxidized aluminum materials. This media is very aggressive and used exclusively before a complete reman or repair including TIG welding (tungsten inert gas). All machined surfaces will require re-machining.
Just as with glass bead cleaning, these media require a complete soap and water scrub down before continuing the build. The cleaning abrasives can be trapped in oil galleys, water jackets, and bolt holes. Be very careful!
Check back next week for the final part of this series as we discuss Parts Tumbling and Tumbler Media.
I hope all of you had a great weekend and have some good plans in place for this coming weekend! I know what I along with everyone else at Kalitta Motorsports will be doing the next three weekends…taking part in the annual NHRA Western Swing! The Western Swing starts out with a trip to Bandimere Speedway, which is just outside of Denver, Colorado and is a once a year type of race with its mile high altitude! We have always enjoyed racing in Denver as the Kalitta Team has done very well there over the years. In fact…everyone one of the Drag Racing Kalitta’s, Connie, Scott and Doug, have won this race before. We have parts that are dedicated to just the Denver race, as nothing we do before or after this race, applies to the mile high racetrack! My Assistant Crew Chief on Doug’s car, Troy Fasching, brought out our Denver fuel pump and fuel system that we have sitting on the shelf just for this race. Yesterday, the Bossman Connie Kalitta made a copy of his run-sheet from Grubbies awesome 3.88 at 314 mph run up on the hill in 2010, and gave it to me as something to look at. It truly is amazing what you have to do to be successful up on the mountain!
After we spend a weekend up in the Rocky Mountians…the Kalitta Team will head west to the Sonoma Wine Country and set up shop at Sonoma Raceway for some sea level altitude racing. It’s quite a contrast to go from a track that has over a 5800 foot altitude in Denver, to a track that sits about 30 feet above sea level in Sonoma! Sonoma has been a good race track to Doug Kalitta over the years, as he has won numerous times and is even in the Sonoma Raceway Hall Of Fame! Another cool thing about Sonoma Raceway is that one of our longtime partners Redline Oil, has their home offices very close to the Sonoma track and we get to visit with Tim Kerrigan and Cameron Evans! Of course another great thing about Sonoma other than the great wineries…is the fact that we get to see Grandmaster Frank Bradley during the whole weekend. Now I know some of you may not know who Frank is, but trust me when I tell you, it is one of the most entertaining things you will ever see when he and Connie Kalitta get together! Frank is a great guy who raced against Connie for many years, and we enjoy seeing him and his lovely wife Maggie each year…well mainly we enjoy seeing Maggie!
Once we have had enough of the beautiful weather in Sonoma…we head straight north on I5 to Pacific Raceways, which is just outside of Seattle, Washington. Seattle is another great city that we enjoy to visit, as they have some of the best seafood you will find anywhere in the country! Now the Seattle track is one of the very few tracks that Kalitta Motorsports has not won at. Over the years, Doug, Scott and Grubby have been runner-up at the Seattle track, but have yet to visit the Pacific Raceways Winners Circle! Now the only Kalitta Motorsports driver to visit the Pacific Raceways Winners Circle is Alexis…Alexis won in the Alcohol Funny Car class last year before she was “officially” part of Kalitta Motorports, so I am hoping that her Seattle mojo will rub off on the entire Kalitta Team! Wouldn’t it be great for Alexis to get her first Nitro Funny Car win at the place where she got her first Alcohol Funny Car win? Yes that would be cool, and it would be even cooler if her Kalitta teammate Jeff Arend and the DHL Toyota was in the other lane when it happened! I think Jeff and the boys would be ok with that if it happened!
It ‘s pretty easy for me to sit here and type about our Western Swing and talk about the cool cities we will be visiting, but let me tell you that everyone of the traveling crew-members of Kalitta Motorsports has been working extra hard getting ready for this swing! It’s not easy getting ready for all of these races, as so many extra parts and pieces need to be brought along on the swing if you expect to survive. After Denver, each team will change their engine and fuel combination back to what they were running before Denver, which consists of injectors, piston and rod combinations and fuel systems. It’s a lot of work for everyone on Team Kalitta, and I am proud of each one of the guys and girls we have here and the effort that they all put in! Without all of these great people…we would basically be screwed!
Well, that’s all of my babbling for now, I hope all of you have a great few weeks and I hope that all of our Kalitta Motorsports Teams have a great Western Swing and that a few Wally’s make their way back to Ypsilanti when it is all said and done! Take care everyone and I will type at you soon!
Jim “O” Oberhofer
Today we’re starting a short series on the various cleaning media available to the engine builder. We’ll be giving you tips and tricks for using each media type, including glass beads, tumbler media and airless blaster media. Check out the Goodson Tech Tip of the Week for the rest of the series.
One of the most widely used cleaning media is the glass bead. Glass beads are primarily used to blast engine components free of carbon base soils and oxidation. Blasting is done in a cabinet to contain and recycle the media being used.
The cleaning process is done with beads being siphoned from a storage area, through a hand held gun that accelerates the media with air pressure. The removed material and broken beads are passed through an exhaust system into a filter, that can be cleaned manually.
Tips for faster glass beading
Keep your air pressure at 60PSI or below.
If you set operating air pressure in excess of 60 to 65 P.S.I., glass beads will shatter upon contact with the part being blasted. A shattered bead will be removed to the filter, just like the materials that have been removed from your blasted component. This is the largest WASTE of beads, and beads equal money.
Ensure that all parts to be glass bead blasted are as dry as possible.
Blasting a part that is wet with oil or water will take more time than blasting a dry part. Always remove as much wet soil and grime as possible BEFORE starting the glass beader. Bead blasting parts is labor intensive enough, why prolong the time involved?
Remove all glass beading residue before proceeding.
Remember to clean parts after glass beading, using warm soapy water, followed by a clear water rinse. Parts solvent does not cut it. If bolt holes, water jackets, and oil galleys are involved, they too must be cleaned carefully. Be sure any orifices are clear of glass beads; you wouldn’t want a tiny glass bead compromising your engine build, now would you?
We could probably write pages and pages about the advantages and disadvantages of different styles of glass bead guns, gloves, etc., but we’ll leave that for another post.
Check back next week for another in our series on Cleaning Media.
Earlier this season at the Englishtown NHRA event, Car and Driver magazine and Popular Mechanics magazine teamed up with us to film a segment called “How’d They Do That?” for their new YouTube channel. The segment features our entire Kalitta Motorsports team and specifically David Grubnic and the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster team. The video is very informative and the production quality is second to none.
Links to the video:
Short Link: http://youtu.be/-VF0JwxQqcA
Long Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VF0JwxQqcA
Bitly Link: http://bit.ly/MiJYJZ
NORWALK, Ohio, (July 8, 2012) – David Grubnic led the way for the four-car nitro-fueled drag racing contingent of Kalitta Motorsports by racing to the semifinals during Sunday’s eliminations of the annual running of the NHRA Norwalk Nationals at Norwalk Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
Native Australian Grubnic, driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fueler, qualified in the No. 14 position (4.022 seconds, 294.95 mph) for eliminations. The Optima Batteries team led by team owner and drag racing legend Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta upset No. 3 qualifier Khalid alBalooshi in the first round with their best run of the weekend, 3.862 sec., 317.05 to 4.080 sec., 255.29 mph.
In the quarterfinals, Grubnic matched up with T.J. Zizzo. As the track conditions got trickier as the temperatures rose in Norwalk, Grubnic used a 3.989-sec., 300-mph pass to vanquish Zizzo and his 4.575-sec., 176.47-mph effort to set up a semi-final showdown with Spencer Massey.
In the semis, Grubnic’s Optima Batteries dragster surprisingly lost traction almost as soon as Grubnic put his foot down on the throttle pedal. Massey was able to drive away for the win, 9.944 sec., 62.70 mph to 3.951 sec., 300.06 mph.
Grubnic has one win so far in 2012 (Topeka, Kan.) and with his performance today moves up to eighth place in Full Throttle Top Fuel championship points.
Native Canadian Arend, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, posted a best qualifying pass of 4.198 sec., 302.08 mph which landed him in the No. 10 spot for Funny Car eliminations. Arend and the DHL “Yella Fellas” led by co-crew chiefs Nick Boninfante and Jon Oberhofer took down No. 7 qualifier Daniel Wilkerson in round one by posting their quickest mark of the weekend, 4.154 sec., 300.60 mph to 4.278 sec., 272.28 mph.
Arend raced against Mike Neff in the quarterfinals. Just about halfway down the 1,000-ft. racing surface, the DHL machine unexpectedly lost valuable traction and that allowed Neff to take the win light, 5.452 sec., 145.16 mph to 4.229 sec., 286.50 mph.
Arend and the DHL Toyota Camry team are now tied for eighth place in Full Throttle Funny Car championship points.
Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster driver Doug Kalitta qualified in the No. 8 position for Top Fuel eliminations with a 3.925-second, 296.31-mph effort. Kalitta and the Kalitta Air team were upset by No. 9 qualifier Keith Murt in round one, 3.888 sec., 315.05 mph to 3.875 sec., 316.90 mph.
The early loss in Norwalk marks only the third time in the first 12 races of the 2012 season that Kalitta has suffered an opening round loss. Kalitta and the Kalitta Air “Fly Guys” leave Norwalk in sixth place in Full Throttle Top Fuel points.
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car, did not qualify for Norwalk eliminations. She is now 12th in Full Throttle Funny Car points.
Team Kalitta as a whole continues to impress the auto racing world so far in 2012 with two wins, two runner-up finishes, and five semi-final finishes in the previous five events including Norwalk.
ESPN2 TV Schedule
7/8 – Eliminations
8:00 PM-11:00 PM (ET)
7/10 – Eliminations Re-Air
2:00 AM-3:30 AM (ET)
Times and dates subject to change.
About Kalitta Motorsports
Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports is a Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. The team was founded and is owned by drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. For more than 50 years, Connie has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and an owner. Kalitta Motorsports is one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing with five world championships and over 50 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.
Jeff Arend drives the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car for Team Kalitta. Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car. David Grubnic drives the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster while Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster. Connie serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nick Boninfante on the DHL Funny Car, by Del Worsham on the Tequila Patrón Funny Car, and by Jim Oberhofer on the Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster. Connie serves as crew chief on the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include Candlewood Suites, ROCKY Boots, Red Line Oil, Technicoat Companies, OPTIMA Batteries, JEGS, and Mac Tools.
For more info about Kalitta Motorsports including exclusive content such as videos, photos and more, please visit www.teamkalitta.com. Follow Us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TeamKalitta. Like Us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/KalittaMotorsports. Check out videos about Team Kalitta on our YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/TeamKalitta. Follow us on Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/teamkalitta.
Tim Wilkerson could do the math. He knew, coming into the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk, that the points were beginning to stack up against him, and if he wanted to earn a spot in the 2012 Countdown playoffs, the time to make a move was now. Right on cue, as the summer heated up to unforgettable and exhausting levels, Wilk got hot at the same time and he came within a car length of sweeping four of the toughest Fords on the planet. Mike Neff took the light in the final round, with a 4.217 to Wilk’s 4.244. The margin of victory was just 21-thousandths of a second.
Getting to that point was a journey filled with moments of exhaustion, endless hours of blistering heat, blankets of heavy humidity, four qualifying runs on a track approaching 150 degrees, and three great rounds of racing on Sunday. It was a race people survived.
Dan Wilkerson lost in the opening round here in Norwalk, giving the red-hot Jeff Arend a solid battle but coming up short with a 4.278 to Arend’s 4.154. A loss is a loss, but in this case D. Wilk and his Summit Racing Equipment team had plenty of reasons to stand tall and be proud of their effort. A qualifying streak was extended, a severe fire was survived, a long thrash to prepare a back-up car was accomplished, and when most of the class was spinning the tires in the opening round, D. Wilk’s mount made a solid lap.
Coming into this race having qualified at the first seven races in his professional career, D. Wilk avoided the drama he experienced earlier this year in Atlanta, where he bumped into the show on his final qualifying pass. Here, on Friday night he rocketed to a 4.152-second elapsed time, cementing his spot in the field. The run held strong for the No. 7 spot on the grid, and the young driver extended his streak to eight straight races to open a career.
On Saturday, the second consecutive overwhelmingly blistering day, D. Wilk’s Summit Racing Mustang wouldn’t go into reverse after the Q3 burnout, forcing him shut his car off. Originally, the plan was to sit out Q4 if all had gone well during Saturday’s early session, but that scheme was scrapped in order to give D. Wilk and his team one final tune-up lap for race day. It was a fateful decision.