If only she could’ve maintained the performance from her off-the-trailer qualifying pass at the NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., Annie Whiteley likely would’ve won the 2015 Top Alcohol Funny Car championship she seemed destined to win all year.
Whiteley, who won four races in seven final-round appearances this season and stood atop the national standings longer than any other driver, battled tire shake the rest of the way and eventually fell to Clint Thompson in the quarterfinals, allowing Sweden’s Jonnie Lindberg to slip past her by 12 points to win the title.
“That run probably hurt us more than it helped us,” Whiteley’s husband, two-time Top Alcohol Dragster world champ Jim Whiteley, said of her off-the-trailer 5.46 at nearly 267 mph. “I think it fooled us into thinking the track was different than it was. There was a whole lot of track out there this weekend.”
The run qualified Whiteley solidly in the No. 4 position and seemed to set her up for even better things in the remaining qualifying sessions and especially in eliminations, but her J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaro refused to cooperate on subsequent runs.
“It is what it is,” said Whiteley, who reclaimed the lead she lost to Lindberg two weeks earlier at the Toyota Nationals by winning the first round over veteran Steve Gasparrelli with a tire-shaking, backpedaling 6.07. “We never got hold of the track after that first run. No complaints, though. Look how the season started – not getting down the track run after run, barely qualifying at the first race (Phoenix). I’d say it turned out pretty good overall.”