Annie Whiteley still hasn’t been beaten at the final regional event of the 24-race Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, but instead of going 3-0 for another win at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, she went 0-0 this time – she didn’t qualify.
Whiteley, who won the event in both 2012 and 2013 (and swept the spring regionals there both years, too) missed the cut for just the second time in her entire career and the first time anywhere in nearly two years. Whiteley, whose only previous DNQ had come at the 2012 NHRA Finals at Pomona, was one of 20 drivers – including two from Sweden and one from Australia – who attempted to qualify at what annually is the toughest regional event in the country.
With a respectable 5.700, she was in the field with one qualifying session to go, but an up-in-smoke leave in that third session left her on the outside looking in when four other drivers bumped into the field. “It was just too much for the track,” said Whiteley, who smoked the tires and coasted to a 14.33. “We have an all-new clutch [designed by the Leanders Brothers, who eventually won the race], and when you change something as big as that, it takes a little time to get everything sorted out like the old setup was. Eventually, this new clutch is going to be better, and this is just something we have to go through to get where we want to be.”