At the second-quickest race in the history of the J&A Service NHRA tour (behind only this race last year), Jim Whiteley charged to the greatest run of his Pro Mod career, a 5.72 at more than 250 mph, to qualify a season-high sixth. It took a 5.77 just to make the cut, and two drivers – Todd Tutterow and, unfortunately, YNot’s Steven Whiteley – ran in the 5.70s and didn’t qualify.
“I absolutely should’ve run between a .71 and a .73 here,” said Steven, understandably disappointed. “I didn’t run good enough in the one [atmospherically] great session, which was a huge kick in the butt. This is probably the biggest disappointment of my whole year. I was a grouch all day Sunday when everybody else was racing and I wasn’t.”
Near-perfect conditions at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis, had the Pro Mods flying all weekend. After a single qualifying session, the entire field was packed within a tenth of a second and the bump was already down to a 5.82. Steven’s 5.80-flat Saturday morning put him 12th at the time but ultimately did him no good, and his subsequent 5.77 left him two-thousandths of a second too slow, 17th in a 16-car field.
Throw out Mike Castellana’s ridiculous 5.67 national record run, and the entire field was separated by just five-hundredths of a second – 5.72 to 5.77. Jim qualified 6th with a 5.729, but Mike Janis, who also ran a 5.72 (5.725), was all the way up in the No. 2 spot. In eliminations, Jim strapped a holeshot on PDRA star Jason Scruggs in the opening round and pulled away to a 5.80 to 5.82 win, then fell in the quarterfinals to eventual winner Stevie “Fast” Jackson, 5.74 to 5.79, for his best finish since he won Houston.