At the NHRA U.S. Nationals, the most prestigious event in drag racing, YNot Racing/J&A Service driver Annie Whiteley padded her already commanding lead in the Top Alcohol Funny Car standings with her sixth final-round appearance already this season.
“The car ran good all weekend, but not quite good enough in the final,” said Whiteley, who appeared in the Indy final for the second time in three years. Whiteley, who won national events in Seattle and Las Vegas and regional events in Vegas and Woodburn earlier this season, came out on the wrong end of a close final-round match with Andy Bohl, 5.62 to 5.63.
The incoming points leader’s road to the final began with a solid 5.65 in Friday’s first qualifying session. She opened eliminations from the No. 6 qualifying spot with an impressive 5.57 in last-shot qualifying Sunday morning and ran at least in the low 5.60s at well over 260 mph on seven of eight runs over the long Labor Day weekend.
In the first round of eliminations late Sunday afternoon, Whiteley dispatched four-time national event champ Dan Pomponio with a good light and a smooth, trouble-free 5.60, one of the best e.t.s of the round. Monday in round two, her consistent 5.66 knocked off Mike Doushgounian, who was at the wheel of the same car Frank Manzo drove opposite her in the 2013 Indy final. Reigning Top Alcohol Funny Car world champ Steve Harker was the next to go. After laying down the only run in the 5.50s all day Monday to win round two, he slowed to an 8.53 in the semi’s while Whiteley sailed to a winning 5.64. She picked up to a 5.63 in the final, but Bohl also found a hundredth for a close 5.62-5.63 win.
“Nobody likes to lose, but I’m happier to have been in the final round than I am disappointed that I didn’t win it,” Whiteley said philosophically. “The best part is, this was a great weekend for points.” With another runner-up finish and the season rapidly winding down, her lead has ballooned to more than 100 points over second-place Jonnie Lindberg.