Back in the car for the first time since March, Pro Mod veteran Steven Whiteley picked up right where he left off in Bradenton – in the final. Whiteley, runner-up in the Chicago-Style Second Chance Shootout at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod, made it to the precipice of victory again at the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Thunder in the Valley but again fell just short.

Whiteley qualified No. 1 at the Noble, Okla., facility and powered through the preliminary rounds before fading in the final against Tulsa track owner Keith “You Know My Name” Haney. From the pole position, he trounced No. 12 qualifier Joshua Vettel in the opening round with a remarkably consistent 3.68 at 204.40 mph, easily covering Vettel’s coasting 5.72 at 81 mph.

Brian Lewis was the next to fall, narrowly red-lighting with a -.002 reaction time and slowing to a 4.27/125 while Whiteley advanced with a consistent 3.68/204. Being No. 1 in a 12-car field afforded the YNot Racing/J&A Service team a semifinal bye and with it, a chance to test for the final, but the engine fell silent well before the finish line for a 4.30/124.

In the other semi, Haney, who had matched Whiteley’s pole-qualifying 3.664 right down to the thousandth of second in his quarterfinal win over perennial top-speed setter Ed Thornton, took down Albuquerque’s Mike Labbate in a great race, barely overcoming Labbate’s holeshot head start. After missing the Tree with a .104 light, Haney assumed the lead and held off Labbate’s 214-mph top end charge to win by the invisible margin of .001-second.

In the final, in a battle of top two drivers in 2023 MWDRS standings and with a $2500 side bet on the line, Whiteley left the line noticeably ahead of Haney with a .039 reaction time only to slow on the top end. Haney claimed low E.T. of the meet with a 3.662 at 203.23 mph while Whiteley’s immaculate ’69 Camaro fell off to a 3.79 at 163 mph.