Tag: Dallas (Page 1 of 3)


Cory Reed’s Precision Service Equipment Pro Stock Motorcycle team was all over the place at the Texas FallNationals, with three different riders on three different bikes on two different teams: Cory aboard Michael Phillips’ two-valve machine, teammate Joey Gladstone on recently sidelined Angie Smith’s Buell, and returning veteran Blaine Hale on the Suzuki usually ridden by Gladstone.

All three qualified for the field, and Gladstone made it all the way to the semifinals before bowing out to many-time world champion Eddie Krawiec, who made his first run ever in the 6.60s, a 6.69, to beat him. Hale, who won the Mile-High Nationals in Denver 20 years ago from the No. 16 qualifying spot, was on the bump again here, but facing the dominant Gaige Herrera in round one, there’d be no miracle finish this time.

“We just want to see what our stuff can do,” said Reed, whose team won three races and wound up second in the final standings last year with Gladstone on the bike. “You have a good year like we did and don’t do much early the next year and all of a sudden everybody thinks you don’t know what you’re doing. People in the pits … they’re definitely going to doubt you. They’re going to talk. But we’ve been making good progress for a while now. Can we outrun Gaige? Not necessarily. But we’re a lot faster than what we’ve shown.”

As for Reed himself, he was Krawiec’s first victim, dropping a first-round match when Krawiec’s mighty Vance & Hines team was, for once, actually vulnerable with just a 6.85. Reed, who spun off the line on his first qualifying run and posted a perfect .000 reaction time on his second, drilled Krawiec on the Tree with a clutch .028 light but slowed to a troubled 7.13 at only 167 mph for the loss.

“Mike really wants to see if we can make this two-valve deal a little faster at the next few races,” Reed said. “I’m only 140 pounds right now. By next year, I won’t be able to make the two-valve weight break anymore. 570 pounds with me on it? It’s crazy that we could even think about doing something like this.”


As championship scenarios played out all around him, two-time world champion Jim Whiteley unleashed one all-time-best after another at the Texas FallNationals in the finest outing of his NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car career. He qualified higher than ever before (No. 3) with his best run ever (5.456) and ran better than that one round after another in eliminations, wiping out a past national event champion every time down the track.

Whiteley, who won Dallas in both of his Top Alcohol Dragster championship seasons (2012 and 2013), and wife Annie, an integral part of what’s still the quickest side-by-side race in Top Alcohol Funny Car history (5.376-5.382 here in the 2017 final), paced a star-studded field Thursday afternoon, tied atop the early leaderboard with identical 5.510s. Jim went on to record a career-best 5.465 in Q2 and an even better 5.456 in last-shot qualifying, and Annie blew everyone away with a 5.438 for the No. 1 spot in Q3, outrunning even title contenders Doug Gordon and Sean Bellemeur.

Annie was right on time in the first round and sped to a smooth 5.453 but was blindsided by No. 16 qualifier Christine Foster, who came up with an incredible, out-of-nowhere 5.431 – low E.T. of the meet to that point and the best run of her life by more than a tenth. Then, in the very next pair, Jim assumed low E.T. with a 5.418, freight-training Chris Marshall’s 5.634, and in the pair after that Bellemeur made the second-quickest run of all time, a 5.359, to claim Low E.T for good.

Under perfect track and weather conditions again in round two, every full run by every winning and losing driver was in the 5.40s, including Whiteley’s 5.442 against Norwalk winner Bob McCosh’s otherwise excellent 5.488. Bellemeur and Gordon both ran 5.40-flats, with Bellemeur losing on a holeshot to Kyle Smith’s 5.425 and Gordon clinching his third national championship on Matt Gill’s foul start.

With a holeshot semifinal win over Smith, who fell despite a fine .042 reaction time, Whiteley moved into his first NHRA national event final since the 2018 Springnationals in Houston, where he won Pro Mod, and first ever in Top Alcohol Funny Car. “Kyle runs good and really knows how to cut a light,” said Whiteley, whose near-perfect .010 reaction time made for a 5.439 to 5.421 win. “I knew I had to have a good one, but I damn sure didn’t know that was a .010.”

Whiteley was right there in the final against Gordon until his car shelled the rear end around half-track, slowing him to a hapless 6.226 while Gordon shot ahead to a winning 5.414. “The 60 [foot time] was .919,” said crew chief Brandon Snider, who knows a thing or two about getting torque-converter cars off the starting line. “If it made it, that would’ve been about a 5.38.”


The Fall Nationals, home of some of the truly unforgettable weekends in both Jim and Annie Whiteley’s careers, was anything but in 2022. This year, Dallas, where Jim scored three times in Top Alcohol Dragster (2008-12-13) and Annie was part of the quickest side-by-side race in Top Alcohol Funny Car history (5.37-5.38 opposite Doug Gordon in the 2017 final), ended in first-round frustration for both drivers.

In just their fourth NHRA national event appearance of the season (following Norwalk, Brainerd, and Indy) both members of drag racing’s premier husband-and-wife team were gone after a single round of eliminations, Jim in a match anybody else would’ve lost too and Annie in a heartbreaker she had in the bag.

After stringing together solid back-to-back qualifying runs (5.54/264 and 5.57/261), Jim found himself up against one of the top two Top Alcohol Funny Car drivers of the past five years, 2020 world champion Doug Gordon, who was all but out of title contention a few weeks ago but now finds himself very much back in it. It didn’t last long. Jim got off the line with the known leaver but overpowered the track in low gear while Gordon, fresh off a win at the St. Louis regional, drove away to a 5.51/267 win he desperately needs to chase down Shane Westerfield for the 2022 championship.

Annie positively drilled first-round opponent Kris Hool on the Tree and couldn’t possibly have lost unless something mechanical went wrong. Something mechanical went wrong: the car shut itself off. She and Hool staged simultaneously – always a difficult prospect because both drivers think they’re staging first but in effect are actually staging last. Annie maintained her composure for a clutch .033 light that had her a car-length ahead of Hool, who flinched for a .157 but advanced anyway when Annie’s car inexplicably shut itself off at the top of low gear, spewing unburned fuel out the headers as she looked on helplessly while he drove around her and into the quarterfinals.


Annie Whiteley was doing fine at the NHRA Fall Nationals, right up until she wasn’t. Half of the quickest side-by-side race in history at the Texas Motorplex in 2017, still the fastest Top Alcohol Funny Car driver of all time (276.18 mph) in 2018, and survivor of a nasty sand-trap crash here later that year, she was gone early this time.

Heading into final qualifying, Whiteley was No. 2 on the provisional grid with a 5.51, second only to the 5.47 of eventual winner Doug Gordon. But one good run gets you only so far, and when she failed to improve in the pivotal third and final qualifying session, other teams did step up – way up.

With invaluable assistance from Sean Bellemeur’s crew chief, mechanical genius Steve Boggs, Aryan Rochon ran a career-best 5.47 for the No. 2 spot; 2017 world champ Shane Westerfield made his best run all season, another 5.47, for No. 3; and Matt Gill, who joined the ranks of national event champions earlier this year in Atlanta, slipped ahead of the J&A Service/YNot Racing team’s 5.516 and into the No. 4 position with a 5.510.

It just served to push Whiteley from No. 2 down to No. 5 and made surviving the first round of eliminations that much more unlikely a proposition. There wasn’t a single pushover in the entire field (every team in attendance ran at least a 5.50-something), but drawing perennial top-three driver Brian Hough first round called to mind what happened here two years ago: Whiteley qualified in the top half of the field, got stuck running Hough first round, and lost.

This was different – neither one of them ran any good. Hough’s crew chief, multi-talented Jonnie Lindberg, acutely aware of just how fast Whiteley’s car might run, had his car way too hopped up, and Hough stumbled downtrack to a backpedaling, off-pace 5.88. Problem was, Whiteley’s car leaped off the ground the instant she swapped feet and swung a hard left, leaving her no choice but to lift. With plenty of time to think about what might have been, she was left to idle downtrack to a 12-second time with “5.88” and the win-light shining on the scoreboard in the other lane.


At the NHRA Fall Nationals, site of some of the most unforgettable days of Jim Whiteley’s long, prolific Top Alcohol Dragster career, he qualified the highest he has all season in Pro Mod – sixth, the same spot he landed at Indy but with a run a tenth of a second quicker. Only this time, he didn’t parlay that performance into success on race day, instead being upset in the first round by No. 11 seed Chad Green.

Whiteley, who shut off to a 9.40 on his initial attempt, lowered the boom Friday night with a 5.80 at 246.39 mph that catapulted him straight to the top of the order at the time. Crew chief “Stevie Fast” Jackson kept Whiteley’s immaculate ’69 Camaro in range for the duration of the event, but the car trended in the wrong direction, slowing ever so slightly each time down the Motorplex quarter-mile. Following a competitive 5.81/245 Saturday (coincidentally against Khalid alBalooshi, who tied Whiteley’s 5.806 right to the thousandth of a second but nipped him for the No. 5 spot with a better speed), Whiteley remained consistent on his next and last attempt with a steady 5.83/246.

In the first round against Green, a former national event champ who’d never beaten the YNot/J&A Service team, Whiteley fell backward another hundredth of a second and dropped a couple mph in speed. That’s all it took. He was two-hundredths of a second quicker than Green to the 60-foot mark (.958-.979) and four-hundredths quicker to 330 (2.553-2.595), but by half-track any edge he had was long gone.

Green had him by a thousandth of a second at that point, 3.830-3.831, and his nitrous-powered 900 cubic-inch behemoth drove away from Whiteley’s blown-alcohol setup with a significant half-track speed advantage, 198 mph to 192. Whiteley’s slowest full run of the weekend, a solid but unspectacular 5.84/243, would have won all kinds of rounds this year, but Green took a huge leap forward with by far his best run of the entire weekend, 5.79/247, to win going away.


It’s all up to Joey Gladstone now. With team leader Cory Reed sidelined indefinitely by the incapacitating injuries from his horrifying Charlotte crash, Gladstone will have to be the one to do it if Reed Motorsports is to lock down its first-ever Top 5 finish in the final NHRA standings.

Robbed of what would’ve been his first career Pro Stock Motorcycle victory in the Charlotte final when the kill switch somehow became unplugged (“I can’t stop thinking about it – I still think about it every day,” he said), Gladstone now leads the charge with three races to go and the Top 5 just outside their collective grasp. Sixth in the standings coming into this race, he set the tone with an off-the-trailer 6.90 – the same number that would flash on the Texas Motorplex scoreboards after every run he made all weekend but one.

Following that pass, a forgettable 6.99/194 under the lights Friday night amid the track’s tacky Spectacle of Speed fiasco, Gladstone pounded out identical 6.90s Saturday afternoon – a 6.908 at 194 mph in the left lane and a subsequent 6.905 at 195 in the right, his quickest lap of the race. Another 6.90 in the first round of eliminations and he’d have been right back in the middle rounds because he absolutely drilled longtime nemesis Jerry Savoie on the starting line.

But at Dallas, Savoie is the last rider anyone wants to face – especially Gladstone, now 0-7 lifetime against the 2016 world champ. Savoie, who’s appeared in the final round here six years in a row and won the past two, was way, way behind Gladstone coming off the line with a .104 reaction time, but even a .023 light wasn’t enough to hold him off.

Gladstone’s Vance & Hines-powered Hayabusa had him at half-track, but at the finish line the 6.90 on the scoreboard was not in his lane but rather in Savoie’s. “I’m still a little banged up [from a crash earlier this year at a non-NHRA event in Darlington, S.C.], my friend’s all banged up, and we’re just out here doing the best we can out here,” said Gladstone, who slipped to a 7.01 in the dispiriting loss. “Cory’s a warrior. His leg’s still beat up pretty bad and it’s gonna be a long road to recovery for him, but he’ll be back out here, trust me. And after Charlotte I know I can win one of these things.”


Jim Whiteley’s never feared any driver, but of all the ones he could’ve faced in his first official round in Top Alcohol Funny Car, he drew the only one he didn’t want to race: his wife. Jim, who’s won multiple national events in a Pro Mod and multiple national championships in a Top Alcohol Dragster, prevailed. Reluctantly.

“I don’t want to beat her,” he said of wife Annie Whiteley before they lined up for the first round of the Central Regional at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas. “I don’t even want us to race each other.”

“I do,” Annie said. “I want to beat him.” She almost did. Driving the J&A Service/YNot Racing Yenko blue Camaro, she had the upper hand going in, qualifying third in a very tough eight-car field with a 5.53 at 269.36 mph (top speed of the event). Jim, who’d barely made a full quarter-mile in a Funny Car before this race, wasn’t far behind with a 5.60/258.68, good for the No. 6 spot on the ladder. He actually tied Bryan Brown right down to the thousandth of a second for the No. 5 spot, 5.607 to 5.607, but Brown won the tiebreaker with a slightly better speed, 259 mph to his 258.

Annie got off the starting line first but ran into tire-shake in low gear and Jim, driving an identical mount (one of her old cars), shot into a lead he would never relinquish. Annie continued to reel him in the length of the quarter-mile, but the lost momentum was too great to overcome and he advanced, 5.59/257 to 5.65/262.

“I kept waiting for her to come around me,” said Jim, who fell in the following round to Kyle Smith, who’d won the Funny Car Chaos event here over fuel Funny Car star Del Worsham. “I peeked over there, and she never came by. I didn’t really want to win, but I wasn’t going to just give it to her. Annie would never want that anyway.”


Sustained by a cadre of family and longtime friends at the Texas Motorplex, where she’s tasted more than her share of success in a distinguished nine-year Top Alcohol Funny Car career, Annie Whiteley absorbed a grating second-round defeat at the 2020 NHRA Fall Nationals. The YNot/J&A Service driver, part of the quickest side-by-side race in Top Alcohol Funny Car history in the 2017 final here, scorched the quarter-mile with a 5.426 at 274.00 mph under the lights Friday night – top speed of the session by nearly 6 mph and 1/250th of second from low E.T. of the entire event.

“I always liked this track,” the onetime Texan said following a booming 5.47 at 272.01 mph (top speed of that session by 2 mph) Saturday in the only other qualifying session under the stilted two-shot pandemic qualifying format. “We usually do pretty well at this race, there are usually a lot of people here, and it’s just always felt like home to me.” Entering eliminations in the No. 2 position, Whiteley, who established top speed here for the third time in the past four years, trounced surprise Winternationals winner Aryan Rochon in the opening round, 5.52/269 to the Florida driver’s distant 5.89/247.

The wheels came off in the quarterfinals when Whiteley, who won the Central Regional here last year with low e.t. and top speed of the meet, was nipped by two-time NHRA national event winner Kris Hool despite running slightly quicker, 5.50/270.27 (top speed of the round) to 5.54/260.91. In the lights the cars were separated by just 14-thousandths of a second, about five feet.

“I think this is the first time I’ve ever pouted after losing a race,” Whiteley said with a laugh. “It sucks. I just didn’t feel right up there. I’ve been holding my foot differently to get a better light, and that time I just didn’t have a good one.”


Fresh off a quarterfinal finish at the U.S. Nationals in his first start in exactly a year, Cory Reed kept going rounds at the Fall Nationals in Dallas, and that didn’t end up being the high point of the weekend for Team Liberty – far from it, actually. Teammate Joey Gladstone, racing for the first time all year, went all the way to the final for the first time in his career.

Reed came off the trailer Saturday morning with a competitive 6.92 at 194 mph and backed it up with an almost identical 6.92/195 in the only other qualifying session, eventually settling into the No. 11 spot on the eliminator ladder. Gladstone was even better, anchoring the fast half of the 16-bike field with a 6.89/195 on his only attempt.

Both drivers sailed through the first round of eliminations against heavily favored opponents, Gladstone with a winning 6.98/190 when Hector Arana Jr. red-lighted by eight-thousandths of a second and Reed with a 6.96/193 over U.S. Nationals winner and national championship contender Scotty Pollacheck’s bogging 7.00/197 in a race decided by 1/500th of a second.

In the quarterfinals, Gladstone stopped cagey veteran Michael Phillips, who had upset incoming points leader Matt Smith in the first round, with a steady 6.97/191 opposite Phillips’ slowing 9.77. One pair later, Reed, who long ago established himself as one of the better leavers in Pro Stock Motorcycle, lost on a holeshot to eventual winner Jerry Savoie, 6.97/189 to his slightly quicker 6.96/193. After a semifinal upset of 2000-01-02 world champ Angelle Sampey, who threw away what would have been a winning 6.89/195 on a red-light start, Gladstone, with nothing to lose, lined up against former world champ Jerry Savoie in the final.

The Team Liberty bike made its worst run all weekend, a 7-flat at 192 mph, and Savoie, in a Dallas final for the sixth straight year, scored with a 6.91/191, bringing to an end the finest day of Gladstone’s career. “This is pretty unbelievable,” the young rider said of his first final-round appearance in NHRA competition. “[Engine builder/crew chief] Cecil [Towner] did a great job tuning. Everybody on the team did a good job, and we’re all having a good time. I really think that’s what’s led to this success. I’m still in disbelief – we weren’t even sure we were going to come here – but in drag racing, I guess when it’s your day, it’s your day.”


In her first official outing since the COVID-19 pandemic brought NHRA drag racing to a standstill, defending event champ Annie Whiteley just missed back-to-back titles at the Texas Motorplex, dropping an ultra-close final-round bout against the toughest possible opponent, 2018-19 Top Alcohol Funny Car world champ Sean Bellemeur.

“It feels like it’s been a year since we were at the track,” Whiteley said, “and I’ll admit it – I was a little nervous. The whole routine … ‘Am I going auto remember everything?’ You don’t know till you do it. But once they started the car, it was like, ‘I got this.’ ” She definitely did, qualifying No. 2 with a 5.52 at 268.60 mph en route to yet another final-round appearance on the all-concrete Motorplex surface.

Masked like everybody else in the oppressive Texas heat, Whiteley’s YNot/J&A Service team, led my crew chief Mike Strasburg, headed to the line for the first round against former national event finalist Steve Burck. They slowed to a still-good 5.58/267, but it was more than enough to subdue Burck’s 5.70/259 and set up a semifinal showdown with early season points leader Doug Gordon.

That one went much easier than expected when Gordon got caught looking at the tach as his car inched from the pre-staged beam to the staged beam while he was trying to figure out why the throttle pedal wouldn’t move. (The blades froze up in the injector.) Gordon was still looking down when the tree came on, and Whiteley was long gone with her quickest run of the weekend to that point, a 5.51/268, for a surprisingly easy round-win, her fifth in a row at this event. “He went to bring the RPMs up and was trying to get the blades to open and didn’t realize he’d bumped in and lit the light,” she said. “When he looked up at the Tree, it was already on.”

A couple hours later in the final, Whiteley cut her best light of the day and made her best run all weekend but still fell just short of the vaunted Bellemeur/Boggs/Bartone juggernaut, which got the best of by far the best race of the entire event, 5.494 to 5.496. “The tire was just stuck to the track or we would’ve run better,” she said. “It was a good race. We both had .960 60-foot times and when I got down there – I never look over in the other lane – I was saying, ‘Come on. Did we, did we?’ We came so close to winning – I never saw him – but even though we didn’t quite win, it was still nice just to be back at the track.”

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