In the best overall performance of their Pro Mod careers, the father-and-son team of Jim and Steven Whiteley qualified solidly in the all-five-second field at the Carolina Nationals and advanced deep into eliminations – Jim reached the quarterfinals for the second race in a row, and Steven made it to the semifinals for the first time in his young career. “Finally,” Steven said. “What a relief. I was hoping Dad and I would race each other in the semi’s so that one of us was sure to be in the final, but it didn’t quite work out that way.”
Driving his popular YNot Racing/J&A Service ’14 Cadillac CTS-V, Steven went from outside the field all the way to the No. 4 spot in last-ditch qualifying with an outstanding 5.89 at 247.93 mph, one of the quickest runs of his career and his fastest speed all year. It was his second 5.80 qualifying effort in a row, including a 5.88 two weeks ago at the U.S. Nationals.
Jim clocked a 5.94 on his second qualifying attempt for the provisional No. 7 spot on the grid, slipped to 13th by the time he got back to the line for Saturday’s lone session, then picked up to a 5.92 at 245 mph to shoot back up to the 10th spot. Numerous past event winners – Don Walsh (No. 18, 6.00), Jay Payne (No. 19, 6.02), reigning series champ Rickie Smith (No. 22, 6.05), Kenny Lang (No. 23, 6.05), and Mike Castellana (No. 25, 6.12) failed to make the cut.
When eliminations for the third-to-last race of the 10-race 2015 J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod series kicked off, both Whiteleys powered through the first round, trailering a pair of “name” drivers. Jim got around Gatornationals winner and early season points leader Bob Rahaim in a great race, leaving first by a few thousandths of a second and leading Rahaim door handle to door handle right to the lights for a thrilling 5.93 to 5.94 win. The margin of victory was just 15-thousandths of a second. One pair later, Steven strapped a huge holeshot on veteran Chip King and drove away from him, not just winning but establishing low e.t. of the entire round with a 5.92.
Sunday in round two, Steven knocked off one of the biggest stars in Pro Mod, Englishtown winner Bill Glidden, son of legendary Pro Stock racer Bob Glidden, with the second-quickest run of the round, 5.93. Jim’s ’69 Chevelle dropped that round to eventual winner Danny Rowe, 6.08 to 10.11, after getting a slight jump at the line. Steven also left on Rowe in the semifinals but came out on the wrong end of a much closer race, 5.91 to 5.99.
“We just missed the setup that time,” Steven said. “It was way too soft, our worst full run of the weekend, and I could tell right away. I Tree’d him, and I still saw his fender right away. As soon as we got past the Tree, I knew. He never really did pull away from me, but I couldn’t get around him.”
With just a few days off before the penultimate event of the season, Jim and Steven head to Gateway Int’l Raceway in St. Louis with a ton of momentum eyeing the very real prospect of the YNot Racing/J&A Service team’s first Pro Mod title.