At the all-5.80 NHRA U.S. Nationals, the biggest race of the season, Jim and Steven Whiteley both qualified for the fastest lineup in Pro Mod history, Jim with 5.86 at 246 mph in his immaculate â€™69 Chevelle and Steven with a 5.89 at 246 in his â€™14 Cadillac CTS.
Steven opened with a 5.95 off the trailer and a nice 5.90-flat that would have qualified him for any other Pro Mod race ever but wouldâ€™ve left him 17th for this 16-car field had he not improved in later sessions. Jim started with a 5.96. Steven unloaded a 5.89 in the third session that ultimately landed him on the bump for the record field and Jim moved up 16 spots to No. 7 at the time with the 5.86/246, the quickest and fastest run of his Pro Mod career.
The wheels came off in eliminations when Jim was chased down in the first round by yearlong points leader Rickie Smithâ€™s come-from-behind 5.83 after drilling Smith on the Tree with a .034 light. Facing No. 1 qualifier Troy Coughlin, the reigning J&A Service Pro Mod Series champ, in the first round, Steven got out of shape early, brought it back from the wall and went after Coughlin until there was no way he could catch the Jegâ€™s driver, even if he broke, and coasted to a 6.61 at 216 mph. Coughlin, the eventual runner-up who dipped into the 5.70s multiple times in qualifying, advanced with a 5.83.
It may have been an off weekend for the J&A Service/YNot Pro Mod cars, but it was anything but for teammate Annie Whiteley, who reached the Top Alcohol Funny Car final for the third time in four career trips to Indianapolis, and Cory Reed, whose career-first semifinal appearance in the Pro Stock Motorcycle semifinals leapfrogged him over three other riders on the last day of the regular season for the final Countdown position and a shot at the championship.
The Pro Mods will be back in action next weekend in the heart of door-car country, Charlotte, N.C., at the Carolina Nationals at ZMax Dragway.