At the prestigious Winternationals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Raceway, one of the few tracks at which she hasn’t already won at least once, Annie Whiteley came through with one of her best reaction times ever to trounce one of biggest names in the business, feared leaver Shane Westerfield.

With a near-perfect .007 light, Whiteley drilled Westerfield on the Tree and drove away with low E.T. of the meet to that point. Westerfield, driving for the RJM superteam owned by Kathy Jackson, wife of the late Rick Jackson, was more than on time with a respectable .059 reaction time, but Whiteley was noticeably ahead and opened the lead from there with an outstanding 5.49 at 265.80 mph to cover Westerfield’s otherwise fine 5.54/264 by more than a car length.

“They handed me the ticket and I saw that .007 and thought, ‘Oh, that can’t be mine. That has to be Shane’s, ” Whiteley said. “I mean, he’s the one who’s always cutting .00 lights – not me. But he said, ‘That’s not mine, Annie. That’s all you.’ I couldn’t believe it.”

Whiteley’s “Shattered Glass” Camaro came off the trailer with a decent 5.56 at 263.46 mph (just shy of top speed of the meet to that point) that left her No. 2 on the provisional grid behind only the surprising Hunter Jones, who enjoyed the finest outing of his young career. After an aborted 7.52 on what turned out to be their only other attempt, the J&A Service/YNot Racing team entered eliminations fourth on the grid, set to face Westerfield, the 2017 national champion who almost never qualifies in the bottom half of the field.

In the lanes, readying for a crucial semifinal match with Jones, Whiteley dove for cover when the skies opened, pummeling cars and drivers with golf-ball-sized hail, and the race was postponed. When it resumed three weeks later at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in conjunction with Four-Wide Nationals qualifying, Whiteley was upset, 5.59/262 to a shutoff 7.97/117, by the upstart Jones, who would go on to lose a close final to Brian Hough.