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Rising Funny Car star Daniel Wilkerson on cusp of first win heading to Bristol

Daniel Wilkerson has already enjoyed a great start to his first full season in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series and can take another big leap at this weekend’s Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
05 Jun 2024
Posted by NHRA.com staff
Daniel Wilkerson

Daniel Wilkerson has already enjoyed a great start to his first full season in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, sitting sixth in Funny Car points after a final round in Charlotte and back-to-back semifinal appearances at the last two races.

But the rising star in the loaded Funny Car ranks and the son of former standout Tim Wilkerson can take another big leap at this weekend’s 23rd annual Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

With Tim now tuning and Daniel driving the 11,000-horsepower Scag Power Equipment, Summit Racing Equipment Ford Mustang, the team has made consistent improvements all year. It’s put Wilkerson on the verge of a victory as he has set career-best marks at seemingly every race.

In Epping, he went 3.899 seconds at 329.91 mph to qualify a career-best fourth in Funny Car, making him even more excited to race in Thunder Valley and at Bristol Dragway, a facility he has always enjoyed.

“I love Thunder Valley. The setting is amazing, and it's unique,” Wilkerson said. “The racetrack is tricky, though, [but] I think we have something for this year. My family is coming again, so hopefully we can take some winner’s circle pictures with everyone this weekend. I’m so very honored to be able to drive this Scag Power Equipment/Summit Racing Equipment Ford Mustang. Tim has been doing a great job making our hot rod fast and consistent.”

Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home titles last year in picturesque Thunder Valley, and this year’s race will again be broadcast on FS1, including eliminations beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday. It is the eighth of 20 races during the 2024 season and the fan-favorite Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge also takes place on Saturday, featuring semifinalists from last weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals.

Wilkerson will be part of that bonus event for the third straight race, taking on points leader Austin Prock in a semifinal rematch from Sunday. Wilkerson will look to exact some revenge after Prock slipped by him in a thrilling side-by-side duel between a pair of young guns in the Funny Car category.

The other matchup features Epping winner John Force and Gainesville winner J.R. Todd, with the specialty race winner having a chance for a double-up weekend. Wilkerson would love for that to be him, though he will have to navigate a loaded field that also includes reigning world champ Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca III, defending event winner Capps, whose seven wins are the most for any driver at Bristol Dragway, and former Bristol winner Alexis DeJoria.

But Wilkerson has enjoyed the team’s race-to-race progress, and the father-son dynamic has brought out the best in both the tuner and driver, which could mean Wilkerson’s first career victory is on the horizon.

“This Scag Power Equipment, Summit Racing Ford Mustang team has found some consistency, maybe a little luck, too, but Tim has been making good decisions and the car has been responding,” Wilkerson said. “All the hard work is paying off. It's been fun. We've picked up round-wins and continue to hit some of my career bests.”

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:45 and 7 p.m. ET on Friday, June 7, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 8 at 12:30 and 3:15 p.m. Eliminations will begin at noon ET on Sunday, June 9. Television coverage includes qualifying action at 7 p.m. ET on Friday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday on FS1, leading into eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday.

To purchase NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals tickets, fans can visit .