Already solidly in first place atop the Top Alcohol Funny Car standings when she got to Seattle, Annie Whiteley solidified her increasingly likely bid for a national championship with a dominant performance at the Northwest Nationals.
After back-to-back-to-back 5.51s in the preliminary rounds, Whiteley whipped nemesis Shane Westerfield, who lost traction right off the starting line, with a consistent 5.54 in the final. “My guys have given me an unbelievable car, and I just try to do my job and not screw up on the lights,” Whiteley modestly said of her J&A Service/YNot team, led by crew chief Mike Strasburg. “The car just runs smooth every time.”
Coming off a storybook weekend at Woodburn, where she qualified No. 1 and set both ends of the track record en route to her third win of the season, Whiteley annihilated the track record in Seattle qualifying with a 267.59-mph blast, the fastest of her career. She held down the No. 1 qualifying position until the last pair of the final session, when Mike Doushgounian edged her 5.502 with a 5.489.
Starting eliminations from the No. 2 spot on the grid, Whiteley, who had qualified No. 1 at five races in a row, mowed down the opposition with one spectacular run after another, starting with a 5.512 at 265.90 mph Saturday afternoon against rookie Chris Marshall, who veered crossed the centerline. Sunday in round two, her best run of eliminations, a 5.510 at 267.48 mph, dispatched former national event winner Jirka Kaplan, who got sideways in low gear, fell behind, and lost with a 6.32.
In the semifinals, Whiteley put a tenth on two-time Seattle winner Clint Thompson at the Tree with a .038 reaction time and drove away for another train-length win, 5.518, 265.90 to an up-in-smoke 15.88. Whiteley then won the final in another walkover against Westerfield, who had been 5-0 against her until this weekend, including a final-round win last year in Houston,
With four wins and seven final-round appearances already in 2015, Whiteley holds a 62-point lead over second-place Doug Gordon, who lost to Westerfield in the semi’s at Seattle. Next up for the J&A Service/YNot team is the Lucas Oil Nationals Aug. 21-23 in Brainerd, Minn.