The Thunder Valley Nationals at historic Thunder Valley Dragway in Bristol, Tenn., ended early for the father-and-son YNot Racing/J&A Service Pro Mod team of Jim and Steven Whiteley. Jim, whose classic ’69 Chevelle won the Houston event last month and reached the semifinals last week in Englishtown, N.J., shook hard and fell to points leader Rickie Smith in the first round of eliminations. Steven did likewise and dropped his first-round match against No. 1 qualifier and 2015 runner-up Bob Rahaim.
“We needed to get the car to run a little better early, so we made a move – a big move,” Jim said. “It didn’t work, and we got our legs cut off.” He opened qualifying with a respectable 6.02 in the first qualifying session and backed it up with a consistent, quicker 5.99. Steven made his best run of the weekend, a 6.04, right off the trailer that put him third on the qualifying grid at the time.
Steven shut off to a 10.44 in the late Friday session, one of the few times he and his dad have run side by side. “He got me on the Tree, which I’m sure he enjoyed,” joked Jim, who dipped into the five-second zone on that run for the No. 10 spot at the time. Neither driver put down a representative run in Saturday’s final qualifying session, but hopes were high when the first round went off that evening.
Unfortunately, it was more of the same for both YNot Racing entries. Jim, one of few drivers on the J&A Service Pro Mod circuit with a .500 record against Smith, had to shut down in in a rematch of the wild Houston final won by Whiteley. “We took a little power out for that run, but it didn’t work,” he said. “We almost got by with it in the third qualifying session, and I really thought we could again in the first round. I figured running after the nitro cars would make the track better.”
In the last pair of the round, Steven’s flawless Cadillac CTS fared no better in a shut-off loss to Rahaim, who advanced all the way to the final and had the race won until he lost control near half-track and narrowly avoided a crash.