By just six-thousandths of a second, Jim Whiteley was denied his third major Pro Mod victory and first in Mid-West Drag Racing Series competition. The long-established leaver was a little too quick for his own good in the final round of the Xtreme Texas Nationals, barely red-lighting and handing the title to young Tommy Cunningham, who scored with a career-best 3.66/200.
Fully aware of just how easy it would be to red-light in the upcoming after-dark final, Whiteley still did just that, bringing an abrupt, unceremonious end to what had been his best weekend since his last Houston win. With a slight adjustment to the trans-brake throw, instead of being six-thousandths of a second too quick, his -.006 red-light would’ve been a heroic .006 or a .016 holeshot leave and a 3.67/205 win – not a runner-up, an indignity he’s suffered in comparatively few of his career finals.
Back in the familiar confines of his ’63 Corvette (the ’69 Camaro he ran at Gainesville will sit idle until the next quarter-mile NHRA event), Whiteley qualified No. 2, ahead of 19 other Pro Mod entrants and behind only Todd Martin. He then plowed through one formidable foe after another on race day, staring with former Pro Stock and Pro Stuck star Taylor Lastor, whom he dispatched with a better leave and a better run in a one-sided 3.67/204 to 3.74/202 decision.
Past MWDRS series champion Aaron Wells was the next to go, carrying the front end, drifting right, and sliding across the center line on what could have been a competitive run had he kept it on his own side. Oblivious to Wells’ difficulties in the left lane, Whiteley sped down the right with metronomic consistency, recording another 3.67 at 204 mph. Semifinal opponent Mike Labbate, who probably had the best shot at taking him out, red-lighted, advancing Whiteley, who got loose well downtrack and had to lift beyond the 330-foot mark, coasting to a winning 3.91 at just 148 mph – his only non-3.67 of eliminations.
Next up for Whiteley’s vaunted ‘Vette is the rescheduled MWDRS event at newly refurbished I-30 Dragway in Caddo Mills, Texas, and the Camaro’s next outing should be Apr. 30-May 2 at the final NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta.