Annie Whiteley’s maddening 2014 season grew even more aggravating at the Carolina Nationals at state-of-the-art zMax Dragway in Charlotte when she slipped over the centerline in a very winnable first-round matchup against Tony Bogolo and was disqualified. “I had the wheel cocked all the way to the right, and the car just kept going and going and going to the left,” she said. “I had my arms completely crossed at the end, but it wouldn’t come back, and boom – right over the centerline. The whole year’s been like that. It’s just been a bad season.”
Whiteley wheeled her J&A Service/YNot Racing Funny Car to five wins and the West Region championship in her rookie season, 2012, and piled up four more victories – including a first national title, in Chicago – in five final-round appearances last year on the way to another Top 5 finish in the prestigious NHRA national standings.
“Hey, maybe we can still make the top 10 this year,” said Whiteley, who currently is tied with Kris Hool and John Lombardo Jr. for sixth place, just two points out of the Top 5. “The best part about this weekend is how well we ran in qualifying with a new crew chief [Mike Strasburg]. It was his first race tuning a Funny Car, and with all the rain we had and considering that we lost a qualifying run, I’d say he did pretty well.”
Strasburg, who drove the YNot Racing dragster to his first career national event title earlier this season at Norwalk, tuned Whiteley’s Funny Car to a 5.63 in last-shot qualifying in Charlotte, good for the No. 6 qualifying position. “I’m just getting started, but the Funny Car doesn’t seem to be that different from a dragster so far,” Strasburg said. “5.63 isn’t too bad for our first time out, and I’m pretty encouraged about the rest of the year.”
The YNot season picks back up next month with the first of back-to-back-to-back races, the West Regional closer in Las Vegas, where Whiteley has scored three times already in her young Top Alcohol Funny Car career.