At the NHRA Fall Nationals, site of some of the most unforgettable days of Jim Whiteley’s long, prolific Top Alcohol Dragster career, he qualified the highest he has all season in Pro Mod – sixth, the same spot he landed at Indy but with a run a tenth of a second quicker. Only this time, he didn’t parlay that performance into success on race day, instead being upset in the first round by No. 11 seed Chad Green.
Whiteley, who shut off to a 9.40 on his initial attempt, lowered the boom Friday night with a 5.80 at 246.39 mph that catapulted him straight to the top of the order at the time. Crew chief “Stevie Fast” Jackson kept Whiteley’s immaculate ’69 Camaro in range for the duration of the event, but the car trended in the wrong direction, slowing ever so slightly each time down the Motorplex quarter-mile. Following a competitive 5.81/245 Saturday (coincidentally against Khalid alBalooshi, who tied Whiteley’s 5.806 right to the thousandth of a second but nipped him for the No. 5 spot with a better speed), Whiteley remained consistent on his next and last attempt with a steady 5.83/246.
In the first round against Green, a former national event champ who’d never beaten the YNot/J&A Service team, Whiteley fell backward another hundredth of a second and dropped a couple mph in speed. That’s all it took. He was two-hundredths of a second quicker than Green to the 60-foot mark (.958-.979) and four-hundredths quicker to 330 (2.553-2.595), but by half-track any edge he had was long gone.
Green had him by a thousandth of a second at that point, 3.830-3.831, and his nitrous-powered 900 cubic-inch behemoth drove away from Whiteley’s blown-alcohol setup with a significant half-track speed advantage, 198 mph to 192. Whiteley’s slowest full run of the weekend, a solid but unspectacular 5.84/243, would have won all kinds of rounds this year, but Green took a huge leap forward with by far his best run of the entire weekend, 5.79/247, to win going away.