In the finest performance of his young Pro Mod career, Steven Whiteley dominated qualifying at the NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis, covering the entire field by the unheard-of margin of more than half a tenth for most of the weekend.
After an opening 5.83 at a career-best 249.07 mph earned the YNnot Racing/J&A Service team the early qualifying lead, Whiteley was on a single to close out the second session of qualifying. All he did was unload an unbelievable 5.820, the quickest run of his career, at an even better 249.35, the fastest speed of his career, that put him almost six-hundredths up on No. 2 qualifier Troy Coughlin Jr.’s 5.878.
“Both of those runs and this whole weekend was all about my guys,” Whiteley said. “We were struggling earlier this year, but they stayed with it and you can see the results. I didn’t know exactly what those runs were, but from inside the car I could tell they were really good because they felt just like a lot of great testing runs we’ve made this year.”
Whiteley just missed continuing the all-5.8 barrage with a 5.900 in the final session that actually was a positive despite being slower than previous efforts. “We tried to slow the car down that time,” he said. “We wanted to know that we could take a little out of it without getting into a weak-shake run that doesn’t make it down the track. The car did exactly what it was supposed to, and we felt ready for eliminations.”
Facing No. 16 qualifier Harold Martin, who was no slouch himself with a 5.94 that anchored yet another all-5-second field, Whiteley pounded out another 5.83, again at nearly 250 mph, for a train-length win. The weekend finally came to an end in the second round when he made his worst run of the weekend, a still-good 5.92, in a loss to eventual winner Mike Knowles’ nearly identical 5.91.
“He got out on me, and it screwed me up,” Whiteley admitted. “I short-shifted because I knew I was behind, or the car would’ve run another 5.80-something. That’s on me, but it was still a great weekend. I owe it all to my mom and dad and all my guys who’ve stuck it out and really got this car running the way it is.”