Steven Whiteley barely missed the cut at the NHRA Gatornationals in the official unveiling of his spectacular new ’14 Cadillac CTS. With an aggregate best of 6.00 at 244.92 mph at the J&A Service Pro Mod season opener, he wound up just outside the field, tied with former Top Fuel driver Khalid Balooshi.
Whiteley overcame early tire-spin in the first qualifying session for a solid 6.03 at 244 mph that seeded him seventh in the field at the time. Mechanical problems in Friday’s second session prevented him from making it to the line, but father Jim Whiteley, the two-time Top Alcohol Dragster world champ, charged to a 6.02 at 242 for the 12th spot on the provisional grid.
With one session remaining, both Steven and Jim were in the field – Steven on the bubble with his off-the-trailer 6.03 and Jim in the No. 14 spot with his 6.02 – but both got pushed out in Saturday’s last-ditch session. Jim’s immaculate ’69 Chevelle ran a consistent 6.06 and Steven matched the 6.00 bump time on the scoreboard but missed the 6.005 necessary to make the program by the invisible margin of two-thousandths of a second with a 6.007.
“We had 6.0 cars at a 5.90 race,” Jim said. “We’re right on the edge of making it in there, but everywhere we go, these Pro Mod fields are just unbelievable. When you’ve got nearly 30 cars trying to qualify for 16 spots, everything has to be perfect to get in.”
The next stop for the J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod tour is the Spring Nationals April 24-26 at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston.