Tag: Englishtown

PSM – ENGLISHTOWN 2017

Though not discernible strictly from the results of the Summernationals, Cory Reed’s all-new Team Liberty continued its season-long rise at the NHRA event just outside New York City in Englishtown, N.J. Reed and his teammate, three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Angelle Sampey, both made the cut, as they have at every race so far this year – a perfect eight-for-eight combined.

“It’s been our goal from the day we decided to start this team: qualify for every single race, both of us,” Reed said. “We knew how tough this was going to be – when you start a whole new team from the ground up, it always is.”

Competing in easily the toughest class in professional drag racing, one that attracts more than 20 entries at every stop on tour, Reed has qualified as high as 11th on the grid. At Englishtown, he qualified just 15th despite recording an excellent 6.895 that tied his best run of the season right to the thousandth of a second.

Opposite eventual winner Jerry Savoie, the reigning NHRA world champ, in the opening round of eliminations, Reed moved first with an outstanding .017 reaction time, but it all came crashing down not far past the Christmas Tree when his bike refused to shift into 2nd gear. “I hit the button three times and finally just rolled off the throttle,” he said. “Then my scoop started falling off – it actually hit me in the leg. Jerry was so far ahead there was no way I could catch him, so I shut off.”

Reed’s 6.895 in qualifying actually wasn’t his best run of the year – just his best official run. In testing, he’s gone as quick as a 6.87, which Sampey recently eclipsed with an even better 6.85. “We keep track of that stuff,” he said. “It’s all written down on a board in our trailer, and it’s always really competitive between Angelle and me. The team found some new stuff this weekend – we always do. Every run we make at a national event is really another test run, and every race we go to we figure out something else that’ll help us down the road.”

PRO MOD – ENGLISHTOWN 2017

Steven Whiteley stared down the pressure in a first-round matchup against the only driver ahead of him in the J&A Service Pro Mod standings, whipping feared Mike Castellana from one end of the track to the other in a must-win first-round showdown at the NHRA Summernationals.

“That round carried more weight than any round I’ve ever competed in,” Whiteley said. “The stakes were big – we all knew it going up there. I felt the pressure but I’ve also gotten to where it doesn’t matter what’s going on outside the car, because if you think about what’s at stake, you’re done. Once we rolled under the tower, I wasn’t thinking about anything but driving.”

At venerable Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., just 45 minutes from the heart of New York City, Whiteley drilled Castellana, usually one of the quickest-reacting drivers in Pro Mod, with a clutch .047 reaction time. Castellana was uncharacteristically late with a .103 and could only watch the J&A/YNot driver motor away for an easy 5.82 win that not only prevented Castellana from stretching his lead but cut into it. Castellana, a winner at Charlotte and Atlanta, nearly matched Whiteley’s e.t with a 5.85 but was never in the race.

“I never saw him, never heard him, nothing,” Whiteley said. “He’s a good dude, probably my favorite driver out there – good driver, doesn’t mess around on the starting line. That was a big race was big for us, no doubt about it. Mike was too far ahead for us to catch him this weekend, but there were a bunch of guys right behind us trying to take over second, and we held them all off.”

Cutting further into Castellana’s once seemingly insurmountable lead with a second-round decision over former Top Fuel driver Sidnei Frigo, Whiteley took the long way to a 5.91 victory. “The car moved around quite a bit that time,” he said. “I really had to do some driving on that one. We backed it down a little bit that time – maybe a little too much, actually – but it made it. For the semi’s, we had the tune-up a lot closer to where it would normally be, and the track said, ‘No way.’ It just kicked the tire off of it. I got back into it, but when I saw Rickie [Smith] off to my right, I knew I was done right there even if he blew up, and I lifted.”

Down 178 points coming into the Englishtown, Whiteley now trails the top-ranked Castellana by just seven rounds. “It’s going to take a while to catch him, but if we can keep cutting into the lead every time, we might just be OK,” he said.

PSM – ENGLISHTOWN 2016

Less than an hour from New York City in Englishtown, N.J., in his first appearance at the prestigious Summernationals, one of six “majors” on the NHRA tour, rookie Cory Reed made the cut at a race too fast for many-time national event winner Shawn Gann and former world champ Matt Smith.

Pitted against one of the most accomplished riders in the field, reigning U.S. Nationals champ Jerry Savoie, in the very first pair of the first round, Reed had a holeshot on his mind. “I definitely have to cut a light on him and hope he doesn’t make one of his good runs,” Reed said. “It’s hard to make six or seven of them in a row, and he’s already made a bunch here, so he’s due for a bad one.”

Unfortunately for Reed’s PSE/Star Racing team, Savoie, who qualified No. 2 with a blistering 6.78, laid down a 6.84 that proved immaterial when Reed’s ultra-quick reflexes turned out to be too quick for his own good. The 22-year-old rookie let the clutch fly a fraction of a second too soon for a -.006 reaction time – just six-thousandths of a second from a perfect light but still a red-light start.

“I guess I was too ready,” Reed said. “It’s hard to slow yourself down just a little – you’ll just end up slowing yourself down a lot. I left on yellow – I never saw the red. I didn’t even know I’d red-lighted until they told me at the other end.” Savoie, the third-ranked rider in the 2015 standings, ran him down anyway despite Reed’s fine 6.93, by far his best run of the race.

The weekend ended on a high note when PSE/Star Racing teammate Angelle Sampey claimed an emotional win, the 42nd of her career but her first seven finals over the past nine years.

PRO MOD – ENGLISHTOWN 2016

With his second late-round finish in the past three races, former Top Alcohol Dragster world champ Jim Whiteley now holds a 6-1 win-loss record in J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod competition this season.

Whiteley, who catapulted from the second alternate position to victory at the Spring Nationals in Houston May 1, backed it up with another late-round finish at the Summernationals in Englishtown, N.J. In the first round there, as in his wild final-round win over Rickie Smith in Houston, Whiteley shook the tires and thought he was done, only to see his opponent veer across the track and into his lane for an automatic disqualification.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Whiteley said of his upset first-round win over perennial contender Danny Rowe, the No. 1 qualifier (5.823). “Right when I thought it was over, there he was, coming into my lane.” Fortunately, Rowe, also driving a supercharged car, eased back onto his side of the track instead of careening off both walls as Smith’s out-of-control nitrous Camaro had in Houston.

Earlier in that same round, son Steven Whiteley, who rebounded from his qualifying crash in Atlanta to qualify a strong 5th in his rebuilt Cadillac CTS, shook the tires in a loss to Khalid alBalooshi.

In Sunday’s second round, Jim parlayed the unexpected first-round gift into a semifinal showing and kept himself undefeated in side-by-side competition in 2016 with a wire-to-wire decision over Michael Biehle, 5.94 to 7.94, leaving first by a mile with a .043 reaction time. Whiteley, who hasn’t had a reaction time worse than a .040-something all year, then cut a .047 in the semifinals and made his best run of the weekend, 5.92, in a close loss to defending event champion Billy Glidden, who reached the final in his debut in Harry Hruska’s Precision Turbo entry.

PRO MOD – ENGLISHTOWN 2015

While father Jim Whiteley was spending the weekend, as promised, on the Colorado River with daughter Alicia to celebrate her high school graduation, second-year Pro Mod driver Steven Whiteley was thousands of miles away in Englishtown, N.J., battling the stars of the NHRA at the Summernationals.

The weekend got off to a rough started with a bang – literally – when Whiteley’s engine gave up in a huge explosion before half-track. The YNot Racing Cadillac CTS-V, which hadn’t put a drop of oil on the track all year, rolled silently across the finish line at 51 mph, smoke pouring out from under it as Whiteley brought it safely to a stop and bailed out. The damage was extensive enough to keep the team from making the quick between-rounds turnaround in time to make it to the lanes for the Friday evening session, when the track and atmospheric conditions almost always are the best.

Whiteley had one more shot at breaking into the program in Saturday’s last-ditch session – just like last year at this race. But instead of an outstanding 5.88 that catapulted him from outside of the field all the way up to the No. 6 spot as in 2014, a decent 6.08 at 245 mph left him on the outside of the all-five-second field. He wound up 25th in the final order. 50-year-old Billy Glidden, son of all-time great Bob Glidden, went on to win his first NHRA title exactly 20 years after Bob won his last.

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