With the greatest run of her Top Alcohol Funny Car career, Annie Whiteley cracked the 5.5-second barrier with a 5.488 for the No. 1 spot in both the Route 66 Nationals and the invitation-only Jegs Allstars event that’s run in conjunction with it.
“I knew it was a good run, but I didn’t know it was that good,” said Whiteley, whose previous best had been a 5.50 in Sonoma in July 2012. “It didn’t feel that much different from a low .50-something, but [crew chief] Mike [Strasburg] and the guys told me if I made it to the finish line without shaking the tires it was going to be my first .40, and it was.”
The 5.48 was just one of four great runs in a row for Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaro in Chicago – just like her five consecutive passes last week in Norwalk, where she rattled off two 5.57s, a 5.53, and two 5.55s. Here, it was a 5.53, the landmark 5.48, and back-to-back 5.50-flats in the first two rounds of the prestigious Allstars race.
A 5.508 at 264 mph in the first round of Allstars eliminations took down many-time national event winner Mickey Ferro’s 5.58. Under the lights in the semi’s, an identical run – right down to the thousandth of a second – erased former Indy winner Chris Foster’s 5.65.
In the final, run on Sunday afternoon due to inclement weather Saturday, John Lombardo Jr., running a cylinder head borrowed from the YNot team, unloaded his own 5.48 for the Allstars title when Whiteley lost traction in low gear. It was a frustrating end to what had been a great weekend and only compounded the aggravation from the first round of the Route 66 Nationals, run earlier that day, when she was upset by No. 16 qualifier Kirk Williams.
Next up is a Western Regional event in Woodburn, Ore., which has already attracted a 17 entrants for just eight qualifying spots. Whiteley heads there ranked second in the West standings, with a victory and back-to-back final-round appearances in her last two regional starts.