- Thursday 26 September, 2013
ST. LOUIS (September 23, 2013) -- Dan Wilkerson will make his 2013 NHRA debut this weekend in St. Louis, behind the wheel of the Summit Racing Equipment Shelby Mustang, with additional backing from Strange Engineering, Darton Sleeves, and Bryant Crankshafts. It will be the first national event appearance for "D. Wilk" since Norwalk in 2012.
The young Springfield, Ill. driver brings an impressive eight-for-eight qualifying record with him, having made the field at every national event he has ever entered as a professional. With the solid DNA he received from his father, veteran Funny Car star Tim Wilkerson, D. Wilk has proven to be a natural in the car, and he aims to keep his qualifying streak alive before the quest for round wins begins on Sunday.
"It's been way too long since I've been in the car, so you can probably imagine how excited I am to get back to racing and I need to thank the great people at Summit Racing Equipment before I say anything else, because without them we wouldn't have the chance to even be entered in the race," Wilkerson said. "We got some extra backing from Strange Engineering, Darton Sleeves, and Bryant Crankshafts and all of that adds up to the opportunity to get in the show and win some rounds. I can't wait to get out there.
"The best thing would be to get in solidly and then help out my dad by taking out a Countdown car or two, to help him move up in the standings. I don't have any doubt in my mind that I can do that, no matter who lines up next to us. Let's face it, the same guy who is in the Countdown right now, tuning and driving the Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford, is tuning my Summit Racing Equipment Ford, so my job is to keep it going straight and get it to the other end. It's great to have such a high-powered crew chief, that's for sure."
D. Wilk's racing career has been on hold for more than a year, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been busy, as he's made the transition from single college student to a married college grad who now holds down a full-time job at a Springfield-based accounting and tax preparation firm. This weekend's AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals, at Gateway Motorsports Park, will mark the first time D. Wilk has pulled to the starting line knowing his wife, Brianna, is behind his car. The couple was married last November.
"It seems like yesterday when I was just a kid, hanging around with my dad's team trying not to get in the way, so it's been kind of a fun whirlwind to get my degree, get married, and start a full-time job, but I still think about driving a Funny Car every single day," he said. "I want to be a good husband, to provide for Brianna the best I can, and I'm really serious about my work and very dedicated to it. But, on the other hand, I was a racer when she met me and she knows how much I love this. She's been very supportive, and it means the world to me to know that she's behind me.
"Right now, we still don't have any firm plans for me to go on the full tour, because we'll need some major sponsorship for that, but when that opportunity comes up I'll be ready. One of these days, if things work out right, my dad will be tuning and I'll be driving, and some lucky sponsor is going to get a heck of a team as their partner. Until then, I'll get out there whenever I can and I'm pumped up to be driving the Summit Racing Equipment car this weekend. It's a gorgeous car, and it would look great in the Winner's Circle."
And maybe, along the way, the kid can help out his dad with some key round wins over the Countdown competition.