All Annie Whiteley did at the Fall Nationals was make the fastest run of all time – 275.00 mph – in the final round in what was also the quickest side-by-side race in Top Alcohol Funny Car history, 5.37 to 5.38. “That’s the ups and downs of drag racing, right there,” said Whiteley, whose 5.38 came up just a few feet short of winner Doug Gordon’s 5.37. His run was the second-quickest of all time, hers the fifth-quickest.
Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Racing team, which dominated the Gatornationals and the Belle Rose, La., regional event earlier this year, has never run better than it did at Dallas. Each run down the all-concrete Texas Motorplex quarter-mile was faster than the last – 269.24 mph in the first round, then 274.27, 274.33, and the shot-heard-’round-the-world 275-flat in the final. “Two-hundred-seventy-five point zero zero – a nice, round number isn’t it?” she said. “Too bad the 5.38 wasn’t just a little quicker.”
From the No. 6 qualifying spot, Whiteley improved from a 5.53 qualifying best to a 5.49 in the first round to send home Kris Hool, the first of four straight former national event champions she had to deal with in eliminations. In the quarterfinals, the YNot team unloaded a then-career-best 5.39 at 274.27 mph to take out Sweden’s Ulf Leanders and set up a semifinal showdown with former Las Vegas winner Nick Januik. A consistent 5.40 at 274.33 in that round was enough to catapult Whiteley to the historic final-round showdown with Gordon that she barely lost.
“You hate to lose a deal like that, but when you’re the first to 275 mph, set the national record, and are in the quickest side-by-side race of all time, you really can’t complain,” Whiteley said. “This weekend was way more good than bad.”