Tag: bandimere


After breaking through for a long overdue first career victory at her home track in 2018 in the wake of numerous near-misses, championship contender Annie Whiteley just missed another Top Alcohol Funny Car title at Bandimere Speedway this year. At the third event of the six-race NHRA Central Regional season, Whiteley, who scored at the Central opener in Dallas, established low e.t. with a 5.70 in the semifinals but lost to Nick Januik in the final, 5.77 to 5.71.

It was Whiteley’s third final-round appearance in the past five races and her third runner-up since winning the rain-delayed Dallas race. As always, crew chief Mike Strasburg and the reigning Central Region champion YNot/J&A Service team brought a special tune-up to this event crafted just for the mile-high conditions they see nowhere else on tour. “They changed the transmission ratio, changed the compression ratio, even put on special [smaller] tires to deal with the altitude,” she said. “Mike and the guys always have a whole list of things to change for this race, and it all worked – the car ran great.”

Whiteley wound up second in the final qualifying order with a 5.72, just behind No. 1 Shane Westerfield’s 5.71 and just ahead of Januik’s 5.73. Entering eliminations second in the national standings with a commanding points lead in the Central Region, she pounded out a winning 5.82 at 257 mph on a single in opponent Doug Schneider’s absence. In the semifinals opposite Kris Hool’s competitive 5.77/248, she threw down low e.t. and top speed of the meet, a 5.70-flat at 260.26 mph, the only 260-mph run all weekend, to assume the favorite’s role going into the final against Januik, who also won the Las Vegas regional in April.


After years on the cusp of victory at her adopted home track, Top Alcohol Funny Car star Annie Whiteley went the distance at Bandimere Speedway, the Denver-area track husband Jim owned for his entire his career. Annie, who had a runner-up, two semifinal finishes, and two first-round losses at Bandimere, won the 2018 final by the just about closest possible margin over former Indy Comp winner Jirka Kaplan: 3-thousandths of a second.

“It feels so good to finally win here,” Annie said. “Jim just won here every time. I couldn’t even tell you how many times he won [six in a row – the last six years he competed in Top Alcohol Dragster: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013]. It was nice to finally win after getting so close so many times.”

Whiteley, who scored earlier this year at the Belle Rose, La., regional and the 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, started from the No. 2 qualifying position behind two-time championship runner-up John Lombardo, 5.74 to 5.78. Kaplan strapped a .007 to .140 holeshot on Lombardo in the first round to eliminate the top qualifier, 5.86 to 5.85, and singled in the semifinals. Whiteley had to do it the hard way and win all three rounds head-to-head to take home the title. She matched her No. 2 qualifying time right to the thousandth of a second in a 5.785 first-round decision over Steve Macklyn, who red-lighted, and topped perennial championship contender Jay Payne in the semifinals, 5.91 to a shutoff 6.58.

In the final, Whiteley wheeled her YNot/J&A Service Camaro to her quickest and fastest run of the weekend, 5.76/255, to hold off Kaplan, who also made his quickest and fastest lap of the weekend, by literally a foot. “I never saw him,” she said. “I just stared straight ahead like I always do and never noticed the win-light come on. After losing in every other round, most of them a couple times, this is just a great feeling.”


Cory Reed’s Pro Stock Motorcycle career continued its upward spiral at his “home” track, Bandimere Speedway, the one-of-a-kind facility carved into the side of the easternmost ridge of the Rocky Mountains just outside Denver. Qualified 9th of more than 20 riders, Reed reached the quarterfinals for the third time in a row – somehow.

“I started doing my burnout and thought, ‘Hey that’s a lot of smoke. That’s kinda weird,’ ” Reed said of his first-round matchup with veteran Shawn Gann. “The next thing I know, there’s fire right underneath my handlebars. The main power line shorted out, and I thought ‘I’m done for sure. There’s no way, I know it.’ They tried one last time, and just as the starter was about to turn around and shut me off, it worked.”

Granted the last-second reprieve, Reed made the most of it, getting the jump on Gann by a full three-hundredths of a second and driving away for a 7.23 to 7.27 win. The 7.23 was the fifth-quickest run of the round, the highest Reed has ranked in any elimination round or qualifying session in his brief seven-race career. “I can’t believe Shawn waited that long – that was cool of him,” Reed said. “I thanked him four or five times. I seriously thought it was all over right there.”

It really was over in the quarterfinals when one of the throttle blades broke and closed. Reed had just gotten off the starting line side by side with eventual winner Andrew Hines, who also spent his high school years in Colorado, in Trinidad, but the race was over before the 100-foot mark when his bike started sputtering and slowed. “I just shut it off,” Reed said. “He kinda got lucky. He ran a .23, and I was about to run a .20.”

Still, it was another successful weekend for the PSE/Star Racing team, which maintained its place just outside the Top 10 in the championship standings, ahead of former national event champions Hector Arana Jr., Michael Phillips, and Gann. “I’m don’t want to sound overconfident, but I honestly think it’s feasible to be in the Top 10 by Indy,” Reed said. “Other people are starting to struggle, and we’re moving up. [Star Racing team owner George Bryce] can bounce the tune-ups from my bike and [teammate] Angelle Sampey]’s bike off each other. It helps us both. Her bike keeps going faster and faster, and that means my mine’s going to, too.”


After qualifying No. 1 at the Denver regional for the third year in a row, perennial title contender Annie Whiteley was out early for the first time ever at this event. While husband Jim Whiteley and son Steven were 1,500 miles east racing their Pro Mods in Bristol, Tenn., Annie lost traction in the first round for an upset loss to No. 8 qualifier Nick Januik, 5.88 to an up-in-smoke 7.23.

“I probably didn’t make it two feet,” she said. “No idea what happened. There wasn’t any use in trying to run him down because I never got a chance to build up any momentum. It was fine in every single round of qualifying. We tested before the race, and it was the same thing – two for two, no problem.”

Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Racing team had never failed to reach at least the semifinals at breathtaking Bandimere Speedway, carved into the eastern ridge of the Rocky Mountains. She was runner-up the past two years and paced the field again this year with a 5.74 blast in Saturday qualifying.

Sandwiched between the matching 5.81s of upstart Bill Bernard and eventual winner Kris Hool at the conclusion of Friday qualifying with a 5.81 of her own, Whiteley pounded out a 5.74 – the same e.t. that made her No. 1 in 2014 – for the No. 1 spot. Behind her on the ladder was one heavy hitter after another: recent Chicago regional winner Jay Payne, national points leader John Lombardo and former national event champions Jirka Kaplan, Nick Januik, and Grand Junction, Colo. neighbor Terry Ruckman.

Denver was the first of five races in a six-week span. Up next is Norwalk, Ohio; followed by Woodburn, Ore.; Seattle; Brainerd, Minn.; and the big one, U.S. Nationals at Indy, where Whiteley has two runner-ups in the past three years.

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