Stopped short of the breakthrough first Mid-West Drag Racing Series victory that remains just outside his grasp, incoming MWDRS points leader Jim Whiteley still fared well at the Great Bend National, well enough to maintain his nearly yearlong points lead. He led all qualifiers, advanced to the semifinals, and left the Kansas plains in first place – right where he was when he pulled through the SRCA Drag Strip gates.
Whiteley, who made it to the final at Ferris and the semi’s at Tulsa, towered over all Pro Mod qualifiers with a 3.71 on the eighth-mile course, just ahead of No. 2 qualifier Jon Stouffer, who survived a violent crash into both walls in eliminations, and No. 3 Joey Oksas, who would go on to collect his first major event title. Whiteley pounded James Roberts in the first round of eliminations and 2019 series champ Aaron Wells in the quarterfinals before falling in the semi’s to series MWDRS founder Keith Haney.
In the opening round, Whiteley drilled Roberts on the Tree, .051 to .138, and charged to a winning 3.76 at more than 200 mph to easily advance. In the quarters, Wells provided much more resistance with a competitive 3.80 at 199 mph, but the J&A/YNot Racing driver had him all the way with a decidedly better reaction time and nearly duplicated his qualifying time with a 3.72/201.
Whiteley’s best shot at his first MWDRS crown evaporated in the semifinals when he came out on the wrong end of a holeshot decision opposite the nitrous-powered “Black Mamba” Camaro of Mr. “You Know Who I Am” himself, Haney, 3.72/202 to 3.71/201. “I went in early – earlier than I probably should have – and it messed me up,” Whiteley said. “I knew it was over when I left.”