INNISFIL, ON – First-generation racer Mike Wilkinson will begin his fifth season of fulltime Ltd. Late Model competition this Saturday. And, after years worth of steady improvement, is ready for what he hopes will be a breakout year in 2018.
“I just want to make sure that our team has a package that can perform well every weekend,” says Wilkinson. “We’ve worked on our stuff for a long time to get it to where it is now. There are still some bugs to be worked out, but we’ve definitely come a long way.”
“It’s tough to predict just where we stack up against these other teams before we get to Opening Night,” continues the personable wheelman. “We’ll unload with our best on Saturday and make whatever adjustments we need to as the night goes on.”
Wilkinson – like every other racer on the Sunset Speedway Ltd. Late Model roster – has spent much of his Winter devising a plan to acclimate himself to the division’s new 10-inch tire.
And, as a result, he knows that finding the right setup combination ultimately takes precedent over a one-night stint at the front of the field.
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself or my guys to come out and send a message on Night 1,” shrugs the Innisfil, ON native. “It’s a long, long season. It’s far more important to us to make sure that our car is dialed-in for the long haul than it is just to come out and win one race on Opening Night.”
“Everything that happens to us on Saturday – good or bad – is going to be a way for us to collect information,” continues Wilkinson. “That’s how we’re approaching Opening Night. We’re absolutely hoping for a top-5 finish – but as long we load up at the end of the night with a thicker notebook than we had when we signed in, I’ll consider it a success.”
A first-generation racecar driver, Wilkinson has proven himself a quick learner and a student of the game over the course of his first 5 seasons behind the wheel of a Ltd. Late Model. And, with his research and willingness to learn, the soft-spoken up-and-comer has developed a sort of quiet confidence in his family-run operation.
“I’m confident in our car and our team because of how hard we’ve been working these last few years,” smiles Wilkinson. “I know that, if we want to compete at a high-level in Ontario, we have to constantly do our homework.”
“We’ve made huge improvements but there’s still a lot of work to be done. The goal is to put together a strong run on opening night and go from there. One foot in front of the other.”