Tag: great bend

PRO MOD – GREAT BEND

In his return to competition after crew chief Brandon Snider filled in admirably with a semifinal finish at the U.S. 131 Nationals, Steven Whiteley did likewise at the rescheduled Great Bend Nationals, advancing to the final four to soar into second place in the Mid-West Drag Racing Series Pro Mod standings.

Whiteley managed just a shut-off 5.52 at 78 mph on the original date four months ago in Great Bend, Kan., but he, like many, got just one run, and for the worst possible reason: in the second qualifying session, Ronnie Hobbs’ car went over the wall in a tragic crash that took his life and took out the timing system, ultimately pushing the race back four months and to a different site, series headquarters Tulsa Raceway Park.

“I went only about 10 feet and blew the tires off in the left lane on that one run at Great Bend and never got to make a run in the right after Ronnie’s crash,” Whiteley said. “I think morale was down for everybody, and rightfully so. We were all just thinking about his family.”

A world away in Tulsa, the rescheduled Great Bend event served as Race 1 of a two-race extravaganza on the penultimate weekend of the eight-race MWDRS season. From the No. 2 qualifying spot, Whiteley plowed through the first round of eliminations with the quickest and second-fastest run of the stanza, a sizzling 3.64 at 208.33 mph. Only Ed Thornton’s 219.54-mph blast was faster, and he was nearly a full tenth of a second behind Whiteley in the all-important E.T. department with a 3.72.

For Whiteley, the race may have ended in the quarterfinals when his ’69 Camaro slipped to a 4.59/111 against second-generation driver Justin Jones, but the weekend was far from over. Things were looking way up a day later at the Throwdown at T-Town, where the J&A Service/YNot team towered over the entire field with an event-best 3.64/209.

“By the time we made up this race, it wasn’t the same vibe as at that next one after Great Bend,” Whiteley said. “It’s a different track, and enough time has passed that things were just different. You could feel it. I wasn’t fazed about getting in the car again – I just wanted to get back at it. I think we all did.”

TAFC – GREAT BEND

The last time a cancelled Mid-West Drag Racing Series race was contested at another venue (earlier this season when Memphis was moved to Tulsa), Annie Whiteley emerged victorious. This time, not so much – but she didn’t miss by much.

Whiteley, who entered the rescheduled Great Bend Nationals atop the Funny Car rankings, made the final but actually lost ground in the standings because the only driver ahead of her was the one who took her out: longtime nemesis Chris Marshall. The 10-year pro, who’d shut off to a 5.76 at 82 mph on her lone qualifying attempt back in Kansas, which was called off after Ronnie Hobbs’ fatal crash took out the clocks, led Marshall by a single point when they passed through the gates at Tulsa Raceway Park.

With an outstanding 3.636 at 213.27 mph in the first round, Whiteley trounced friend Steve Macklyn, who blatantly fouled and coasted to a 9.25 at 48 mph, completing an odd pattern: for perhaps the first time ever, every single race in a round of Top Alcohol Funny Car eliminations was decided on a red-light.

Bryan Brown’s near miss (-.006) invalidated a 3.68/206, advancing Annie’s husband, Jim, who ran a similar 3.67/210 in what otherwise would have been the best race of the round. Then Colorado’s Bill Bernard, using a clutch instead of the torque converter he has for years, threw away any shot he had of upsetting Marshall’s 3.57/314 low E.T./top speed blast with a -.107 bulb.

After Marshall clocked a 3.64/212 on a single, Jim and Annie faced off, as they seem to every weekend, in the other semifinal matchup. Annie got the best of their latest head-to-head clash in a great race after Jim moved first. Both were more than on time ­­(Jim with a .041 reaction time, Annie a .052), but Jim’s 3.68/209 wasn’t enough when she duplicated her first-round time almost to the thousand of a second for a 3.635/213 win.

Pressing to dip into the 3.50s in the final, Annie lost traction, coasting to a disappointing 8.24 at 51 mph. It was particularly exasperating because another low .60 might just have been enough to win – Marshall slowed to his worst run of eliminations, a 3.64 at 212 mph, but still won the race and passed her for the points lead.

PRO MOD – GREAT BEND 2021

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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