After running not just low e.t. of the meet but low e.t. of all three qualifying sessions at the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Annie Whiteley was upset in the second round of eliminations when her car got loose and drifted over the centerline. It was the fifth time in her career that she’s qualified No. 1 at a national event and the third time already this season.
“Somewhere before half-track, the car decided to make a left turn,” said Whiteley, who reached the first national final event of her career at this event in 2012, her rookie season in Top Alcohol Funny Car. “I have no idea why – it left hard and until that point was running just like it had all weekend.”
Whiteley wheeled her J&A Service/YNot Racing Mustang to a 5.61 at 257.63 mph to pace the field and clocked a 5.67 and a 5.64 in the other two qualifying sessions. She earned a first-round bye for being No. 1 in the short field, but following a solid 5.67 on a single that was within .01-second of low e.t. of the round, the car veered toward the centerline in round two not long after she swapped feet.
“Shane Westerfield’s car broke the rear end in the pair ahead of us,” Whiteley said. “I don’t know if that had anything to do with it or if it was because it was misting when I staged – the conditions weren’t ideal for any of us – but the car turned left right where his rear end broke. When [crew chief Roger Bateman] looked at the computer, he saw right on the G meter where something upset the tires.”
The Brainerd event was the first of back-to-back-to-back events for the busy YNot team. This weekend is the Central Regional at Heartland Park Topeka, and next weekend is the most prestigious event of every season, the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, where last year Whiteley fell just short of victory in a close final-round match with Frank Manzo.