For the third time in three career trips to No Problem Raceway, Annie Whiteley left remote Belle Rose, La., a champion. “I don’t know what it is about this place,” she said. “I say it every time: There’s just something about Belle Rose that our car likes. I wish it was like this everywhere we go.” Second in the national standings coming into the rescheduled race and fresh off a win at Dallas and a runner-up at Denver in her first two Central Region starts this season, Whiteley’s YNot team made it a clean sweep with low e.t., top speed, the No. 1 qualifying position, and a victory.
Whiteley, who beat second-generation racer Bryan Brown for the 2017 Belle Rose title and Kris Hool in last year’s final, topped Brown again in a traction-plagued match neither would have expected to win with the times they ran. Whiteley, who set the pace with a 5.67 in qualifying, fought her way to a 5.80, but it was enough to turn back the 5.90 of Brown’s Texas-based Camaro.
Originally scheduled for March but canceled before it ever even got started, the rain date attracted far fewer teams than would have lined up for the rained-out season opener. Just three braved the stifling heat and humidity of the Louisiana bayou in the summertime: Whiteley, Brown, and former Central Region champ Kirk Williams. Whiteley established the pace throughout, with an off-the-trailer 5.68 at 263 mph in Friday’s first qualifying session and a subsequent 5.67 at 264 for the No. 1 spot.
Following a 5.66 that reestablished low e.t. of the meet on the first-round bye she earned by qualifying No. 1, Whiteley staged opposite Brown in the final as an overwhelming favorite and manhandled the 3,000-horsepower beast to a good-enough 5.80 to win for the third year in a row. Off for the entire month of July while the Strasburg brothers prepare to break another record on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Whiteley’s YNot team will be back at the track the first week of August at the Northwest Nationals in Seattle.