Three-time Indy runner-up Annie Whiteley padded her already gaudy career stats at the U.S. Nationals with yet another late-round finish at the biggest race of the year in 2018. Whiteley, who reached the final round in 2013, 2015, and 2016, and just missed winning it all in ’15, overcame a rough start to reach the semifinals for the sixth time in seven career Indy starts.
“The first runner-up wasn’t that bad – I mean, who really thinks they’re going to beat [Frank] Manzo anyway?” Whiteley asked. “The next one, I barely lost to Andy Bohl, 5.62 to 5.63, and the last one, against Jonnie Lindberg, I smoked the tires right off the line and he slowed way down from what we’d both been running all day.”
This year, Whiteley’s YNot/J&A Camaro broke and stopped on the track on her first qualifying attempt, coasted to a 7.69 at just 127 mph in Q2 on the second, then ran back-to-back 5.57s in Saturday’s third and fourth qualifying sessions to nail down the No. 3 spot. She trounced returning veteran Bob McCosh in the opening round of eliminations, 5.59 to 5.72, and got a measure of revenge on Bohl for the 2015 final in a classic second-round matchup, 5.601 to his right-there 5.607, before bowing out in the semifinals against eventual runner-up Chris Marshall, 5.49 to 5.61.
“I don’t know what it is about this race,” said Whiteley, who ran 5.44, 5.43, and 5.42 here last year and has a career U.S. Nationals win-loss record of 15-7 (.682). “I think some people might make too big of a deal out of it. I just try to treat it like it’s any other race.”