Annie Whiteley wrapped up her 11th season as a Top Alcohol Funny Car driver at the NHRA Finals with her best run of the year on what turned out to be her last run of the year. Whiteley, who won the rescheduled Memphis Mid-West Drag Racing Series event, runner-upped at four other MWDRS events, and made her first final-round appearance in NHRA competition in three years, reached the semifinals at one of her least favorite tracks in either, fabled Pomona Raceway.
Led by crew chief Mike Strasburg, the team came off the trailer Thursday morning with an outstanding 5.49 at 269 mph, backed it up with a super-consistent 5.50, also at 269 mph, and locked up the No. 5 position Friday in last-shot qualifying with a stellar 5.46 at 270.00 mph flat. When eliminations began, the J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaro got only faster, with another 5.46/270 that, combined with a noticeable holeshot head start, made quick work of Alaskan Ray Martin’s best run of the year, 5.51/264.
In the quarterfinals, Whiteley clinched the 2022 NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car championship for Doug Gordon by beating rival Shane Westerfield, who had led the national standings almost all season. He threw away a 5.44/268 on a red-light start but Whiteley would have been tough to handle regardless with yet another 5.4, a 5.47/268. The race and the season came to an end Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals when Whiteley’s unbelievable 5.42/271 was held off by Gordon’s slightly slower 5.45/268 on a small holeshot.
It was a disappointing end to what’s been a particularly strong season, the YNot team’s best in years. Whiteley winds up 2022 with at least a semifinal finish in seven of her last eight starts, a victory, six final-round appearances, a 20-15 (.571) win-loss record, and a career record of 113-90 (.557) in NHRA national event competition.