Tag: grand bend


Annie Whiteley, who began 2021 the way she begins every season – by dominating the Belle Rose Regional – trounced Bryan Brown, whose only career win also came in Belle Rose, in the first round of the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Great Bend Nationals. At historic SRCA Drag Strip in Grand Bend, Kan., home of drag racing’s first national event, the 1955 NHRA Nationals, she came up a round short of yet another final-round appearance, falling in the semi’s to incoming points leader Sean Bellemeur.

Racing on the Kansas prairie for the first time in her 10-year career, Whiteley qualified the J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaro with a 3.71 – the exact same E.T. husband Jim recorded in his classic split-window Corvette for the top spot in Pro Mod, and, coincidentally, two-hundredths of a second from the 3.73 twin sister Anita ran to qualify No. 1 in Top Dragster. In Alcohol Funny Car, Annie’s 3.71 was good only for the No. 4 spot, behind Sean Bellemeur (No. 1, 3.64) eventual runner-up Chris Marshall (No. 2, 3.65), and Colorado’s Bill Bernard (No. 3, 3.69).

Separated by one qualifying spot and just eight-thousandths of a second – 3.713 to 3.721 – No. 4 Whiteley vs. No. 5 Brown should’ve been the closest matchup of the first round. It wasn’t. Whiteley won it in a landslide with the second-quickest, second-fastest run of the entire frame, a 3.68 at 206 mph that easily handled Brown’s distant 3.85 at 196.

Another 3.68 in the semifinals would have propelled Whiteley into another final – Bellemeur, the defending series champion, managed just a 3.84, coasting across the finish line at 189 mph. Unfortunately for Whiteley and crew chief Mike Strasburg, their powerful machine had already dropped back, rolling through with a 7.18 at 66 mph on the eighth-mile Grand Bend course. Next up for the YNot team is the most prestigious event in drag racing, the NHRA U.S. Nationals, where Whiteley has made three finals and six semifinals in eight career starts.


Stopped short of the breakthrough first Mid-West Drag Racing Series victory that remains just outside his grasp, incoming MWDRS points leader Jim Whiteley still fared well at the Great Bend National, well enough to maintain his nearly yearlong points lead. He led all qualifiers, advanced to the semifinals, and left the Kansas plains in first place – right where he was when he pulled through the SRCA Drag Strip gates.

Whiteley, who made it to the final at Ferris and the semi’s at Tulsa, towered over all Pro Mod qualifiers with a 3.71 on the eighth-mile course, just ahead of No. 2 qualifier Jon Stouffer, who survived a violent crash into both walls in eliminations, and No. 3 Joey Oksas, who would go on to collect his first major event title. Whiteley pounded James Roberts in the first round of eliminations and 2019 series champ Aaron Wells in the quarterfinals before falling in the semi’s to series MWDRS founder Keith Haney.

In the opening round, Whiteley drilled Roberts on the Tree, .051 to .138, and charged to a winning 3.76 at more than 200 mph to easily advance. In the quarters, Wells provided much more resistance with a competitive 3.80 at 199 mph, but the J&A/YNot Racing driver had him all the way with a decidedly better reaction time and nearly duplicated his qualifying time with a 3.72/201.

Whiteley’s best shot at his first MWDRS crown evaporated in the semifinals when he came out on the wrong end of a holeshot decision opposite the nitrous-powered “Black Mamba” Camaro of Mr. “You Know Who I Am” himself, Haney, 3.72/202 to 3.71/201. “I went in early – earlier than I probably should have – and it messed me up,” Whiteley said. “I knew it was over when I left.”

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