The only good thing about Annie’s 2021 Mid-West Drag Racing Series season is that it’s over. A solid reaction time and a competitive run at the Xtreme Texas World Finals only got her another first-round loss, her third straight in what’s turned out to be the most disappointing year of her long, successful 10-year driving career.
Things got off to a promising enough start at Xtreme Raceway Park in tiny Ferris, Texas, just outside Dallas, when Whiteley clocked a 3.71 at 210.58 mph in the second Funny Car session and a steady 3.72/209.89 in the third. Both speeds held up as the fastest of the entire session, but her 3.71 E.T. was good for only the No. 6 spot overall – not bad, usually, but, in this case, not that great: there were just six Funny Cars in attendance.
Instead of No. 1 vs No. 6, 2 vs. 5 and 3 vs. 4 in the first round as with a traditional six-car NHRA ladder, No. 1 qualifier Sean Bellemeur and No. 2 qualifier Chris Marshall soloed in the first round under the MWDRS’ unconventional format, and the semifinals featured a full complement of four cars. Unfortunately for Whiteley, her J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaro wasn’t one of them.
She charged off the line with her best reaction time of the race, a more than respectable .070, and dipped into the 3.60s with her quickest run all weekend, a 3.69, but Bill Bernard, clinging to an outside shot at the championship, nipped her in the lights in a rematch of last month’s U.S. 131 Nationals final. He clocked a 3.67 to win, then lost in the semifinals to Sean Bellemeur, who clinched the title and subsequently topped second-place Marshall in the final to win a second crown going away.