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JCM Racing Pre-Race Report: St. Louis

NHRA Midwest Nationals

Event 18 of 21

Countdown Event 3 of 6

World Wide Technology Raceway

Madison, Ill.

Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2023


Noteworthy:

JCM Racing’s new marketing partner, Leatherwood Distillery, will make its NHRA debut this weekend at the Midwest Nationals. Leatherwood Distillery branding will appear on Tony Schumacher and Tim Wilkerson’s entries for the remainder of the 2023 NHRA season.


Top Fuel:


JUSTIN ASHLEY

Driver of the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel Dragster


Countdown to the Championship Ranking: 3rd


2022 NHRA Midwest Nationals Event Recap:

Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Mike Salinas in E1)


Last Event (Charlotte 2):

Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Leah Pruett in E1)


2023 Statistics:

17 races; six wins, one runner-up finish, three No. 1 qualifiers


Career Statistics:

72 races; 11 wins, five No. 1 qualifiers


Noteworthy:

  • Won a class-leading six Top Fuel events during the regular season

  • After two races of the Countdown, Ashley holds down the No. 3 spot, just five points behind No. 2 ranked Steve Torrence. Point leader Doug Kalitta holds just over a three-round advantage on Ashley, who is chasing his first Top Fuel world championship

Quotable:

“We faced some adversity in the early part of the season when we would either win or get knocked out of a race early. We worked through that by simply trusting the process and trusting one another. The same principles apply now. We are a championship team that is facing a small bit of adversity. These tests are good and it’s how we respond that will make all the difference. We are focused on St. Louis and the first qualifying session on Friday night. A quick run to start the Midwest Nationals will set the tone for the rest of the weekend.


“We knew it was not going to be easy when the Countdown started. This is now a four-race playoff. The first two races are in the past and we are focused on the present. Putting ourselves in positions to win and being the best version of ourselves that we can be is what matters most at this point in time.”


TONY SCHUMACHER

Driver of the SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel Dragster


Countdown to the Championship Ranking: 10th


NHRA Midwest Nationals Event Highlights:

  • Two-time event champion (2006, 2010)

  • Three-time runner-up (1999, 2008, 2016)

  • 2020 No. 1 qualifier

2022 NHRA Midwest Nationals Event Recap:

Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Leah Pruett in E1; defeated by Shawn Langdon in E2)


Last Event (Charlotte 2):

Qualified sixth; First round exit (defeated by Shawn Langdon in E1)


2023 Statistics:

17 races; one runner-up finish


Career Statistics:

551 races; 86 wins, 88 No. 1 qualifiers


Quotable:

“Obviously, we didn’t want to go out first round in Charlotte but I’m super excited about our progress. The car is finally running great, and we’re still in the top 10. I’m not sure that we will be running for a championship, but we’re still trying to get up as high as we can in the standings because at the end of the day, the lower that number is, the better you are. I feel confident that this weekend is going to be a great one, and hopefully we can finish Sunday holding our first Wally trophy of the year.”

Funny Car:


TIM WILKERSON

Driver of the SCAG Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang


Countdown to the Championship Ranking: 7th


NHRA Midwest Nationals Event Highlights:

  • 2008 event champion

  • Two-time runner-up: 2005, 2018

  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier: 1998, 2008

2022 NHRA Midwest Nationals Event Recap:

Qualified eighth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Blake Alexander in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)


Last Event (Charlotte 2):

Qualified seventh; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Cruz Pedregon in E1; defeated by Matt Hagan in E2)


2023 Statistics:

17 races; two wins, one runner-up finish


Career Statistics:

587 races; 24 wins; 20 No. 1 qualifiers


Noteworthy:

  • As a lifelong resident of Springfield, Ill., Wilkerson considers World Wide Technology Raceway to be his home track

  • Making his 15th Countdown appearance, the driver/tuner of the SCAG/LRS Ford Funny Car began the playoffs from the No. 8 seed. He moved up one position to seventh after advancing to the quarterfinals at the first two of six Countdown events in Reading, Pa. and Charlotte

Quotable:

“A lot going on at St. Louis. I’ve got a media day on Wednesday, and then a press conference on Thursday, and Friday we’ve got one run of qualifying. On Saturday and Sunday, I’ve got a big group in hospitality with Dick Levi and his whole group. It’ll be Mr. Levi’s last big hospitality event, so that’ll be a lot of fun, and then of course we have got our SCAG dealers and distributors, so it’ll be a busy but exciting weekend.”


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