At the Nationals at Norwalk, Jim Whiteley qualified higher than he ever has in his brief Pro Mod career – No. 5 – and then proceeded to run even better in eliminations. But, tired of watching turbocharged and supercharged clutch cars drive around him on the top end, he’s taking out his torque converter setup after this race and going back to a clutch for the U.S. Nationals.

The two-time Top Alcohol Dragster world champ backed up an out-of-the-box 5.91 with an outstanding 5.90 in the second qualifying session, just missing the 5.80s and claiming the provisional No. 4 spot on the grid. He ended up fifth, ahead of 23 of the 28 entrants in the typically huge Pro Mod field and in the first round faced Pro Mod rookie Troy Coughlin Jr., son of the 2012 NHRA Pro Mod champ and 2013-14 championship runner-up.

Whiteley cut a decent .089 light, young Coughlin was off like a shot with a .024, and Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Chevelle immediately overcame the Jegs car’s quicker start and sailed into a sizable lead. He was out front by more than half a tenth at the 330-foot mark, still held a noticeable advantage at half-track, and finally relinquished it around the 1,000-foot mark.

“I never saw him until the very end,” said Whiteley, whose reaction times usually are in the .030s and .040s. “Those turbocharged cars have 6 or 7 mph on the converter cars at the top end, and he got around me. When the converter slips like that, you just give away too much speed, and that thing’s about to come out of there. It’s not easy to make a change when the car runs as good as it did this weekend, but in the end, I think this will be for the best.”