Steven Whiteley came through under huge pressure in last-shot qualifying at the NHRA Summit Racing Nationals to make the cut and extend the longest active consecutive-race qualifying streak in Pro Mod. Twenty-fifth on the list with a shutoff best of 9.13 when the session began, Whiteley was the first one down the track in the left lane. Charging off the line and speeding through the mid-range, he clocked a strong 5.87 at 248 mph – his highest speed since a 249-mph blast at Charlotte – for the No. 10 spot on the grid.
In the opening round, Whiteley cut one of the best lights of the entire event, .033, only to fall to Jonathan Gray when the former Pro Stock racer was even quicker with a .023 reaction time and a 5.83 opposite Whiteley’s otherwise fine 5.93. Whiteley, who opened the season with a victory at the Gatornationals, remains in the Top 5 in the J&A Service Pro Mod Series despite a second straight early exit in eliminations.
“It’s been a little rough the last two weeks, but it’s still the best season we’ve ever had, by far,” said Whiteley, who currently stands fourth in the rankings. “[Crew chief] Jeff [Perley] and all the guys have worked their tails off to make this car consistent, and you can tell by the number of rounds we’ve won and the number of times we’ve beaten higher-qualified cars.”
After racing on back-to-back-to-back weekends in New Jersey, Tennessee, and Ohio, teams get a two-month reprieve before the series picks back up with the biggest race of the season, the U.S. Nationals, in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend. “That’s a lot of time to work on the car, test, and make everything better,” Whiteley said. “If we can stay in the Top 5 all season, maybe even move back up a couple spots, that would be incredible. You start out in this deal and you just want to qualify. Then you want to win rounds, and then you want to win a race. We’ve done all that now. We just need to keep going in this direction.”