Annie Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Racing team endured a frustrating weekend at Mission Raceway on the shores of the Fraser River in scenic Mission, B.C., struggling for traction throughout testing and qualifying and falling in the first round of eliminations despite running low e.t. of the meet.
The team’s frustration was compounded by the fact that the winner of that first-round matchup with recent nemesis Chris Marshall earned a semifinal single into the finals, making it a 32- or 53-point swing from the 64 runner-up points she’d have been guaranteed and the 85 point she would’ve received for winning the final, which she almost certainly would have.
“We got to the track ahead of time to test, but more than just trying stuff we were there to break in some tires,” Whiteley said “We never really get to – it rained. We ended up making two runs, didn’t make it down the track either time, and never made it down the track in qualifying, either – 0-for-3.”
Fifth on the grid when eliminations began with a shutoff best of 8.22, Whiteley stormed to a track-record 5.49 at one of the fastest speeds in Top Alcohol Funny Car history, 273.30 mph. It was her misfortune to do so right when opponent Chris Marshall laid down the best run of his young career, a 5.50-flat, and cut a better light to advance directly to the final.
“We put the exact tune-up in the car that we had in it at Belle Rose [where she dominated all weekend for her second victory of the season],” Whiteley said. “We thought, ‘Hey, maybe we were just misreading the track.’ Then we changed the transmission, but that didn’t work, either. Finally, [crew chief] Mike [Strasburg] figured, ‘OK, it’s not the track, it’s not the tune-up, and it’s not the transmission ratio.’ He realized that we’d really never had a weak shake since we started running Hoosiers, put some 47-run-old Hoosiers on the car and ‘boom,’ it went right down the track – 5.49, 273.”
A solid fourth in the Top Alcohol Funny Car standings, just 1 point out of third and well over 100 points up on fifth-place Ray Martin, Whiteley races next at the Summit Nationals June 23-25 in Norwalk, Ohio, where she just missed winning in 2015.