Tag: MWDRS (Page 1 of 2)

TAFC – MARTIN

Both J&A Service/YNot Racing Funny Cars – Jim Whiteley’s spotless white one and wife Annie’s familiar blue machine – were taken out by the same car at the U.S. 131 Nationals, the flamed Camaro of 2021 Mid-West Drag Racing Series runner-up Chris Marshall. Everything was wide-open in the absence of reigning champion Sean Bellemeur, and Marshall made the most of it, starting with a wheels-up, nearly aborted 3.58 that was on the ragged edge of control from beginning to end.

Jim qualified No. 4 and nearly pulled off an outrageous upset with a massive holeshot in the first round, falling just short of Marshall in the lights by the invisible margin of two-thousandths of a second. Annie put away Steve Macklyn’s Mustang in the other first-round matchup and in the final round just missed doing what Jim almost did in the opening round: beat Marshall on a holeshot.

But instead of a perfect .000 light, Annie, who has really come into her own on the Tree this year, red-lighted by a couple thousandths of a second with a frustrating -.002 reaction time. With the race lost, she shut off early and coasted across the eighth-mile finish line at 88 mph with what would’ve been a great E.T. on a quarter-mile (5.52), while the Oregon-based driver, who reverted to an old setup for this race after a disappointing U.S. Nationals, sped to a 3.62 at a booming 212.06 mph. For Annie, who qualified No. 1 here last year, it was her second runner-up in a row at the revamped Martin, Mich., facility.  

The 2022 Mid-West Drag Racing Series season wraps up with another double event in Tulsa (not unlike the rained-out Memphis event that was finished in conjunction with the regularly scheduled Tulsa event this spring). It all unfolds Oct. 7-8 at Osage Casino & Hotel Tulsa Raceway Park, where the cancelled Great Bend Nationals will be contested as part of the traditional Throwdown in T-Town MWDRS season finale.

PRO MOD – MARTIN

Back behind the wheel of one of the fastest Pro Mods on the eighth-mile instead of tuning it for Steven Whiteley as he has all year, talented driver/tuner Brandon Snider qualified near the top of the grid and drove to a semifinal finish at the U.S. 131 Nationals. At Martin, one of the crown jewels on the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ eight-race tour, Snider showed the form that made him one of the more feared drivers on the NHRA tour, where he won multiple events and came within a round of the 2020 championship.

As the MWDRS season resumed following a three-month break since the Summer Speed Spectacular at World Wide Technology Raceway just outside St. Louis, Snider wheeled the J&A Service/YNot Racing team’s immaculate ’69 Camaro to an outstanding 3.65 at 205 mph for the No. 4 spot in the all-3-second 16-car lineup. Series newcomer and eventual winner Preston Tanner paced the field with a run just a couple hundredths of a second quicker than Snider’s 3.65, a 3.62/204.

In the first round, in all-Camaro showdown with Mike Recchia, Snider was out first with a .024 reaction time and came out on top in a great race, 3.68/206 to 3.73/203. When the sun set for the quarterfinals, he picked up to a 3.66/205 to erase the close 3.72/201 of second-generation racer Jackie Sloan Jr. and set up a semifinal showdown with Tanner.

Tanner, who would go on to score in his MWDRS debut, got off the mark first with a telepathic reaction time and held off Snider’s quicker 3.61/208 for a 3.64/203 holeshot win. Dustin Nesloney topped Ed Thornton in the other semifinal and narrowly red-lighted in the final to hand the event title to a grateful Tanner, who couldn’t help but notice the red-light glowing in the dark and clicked it early to avoid a disastrous centerline infraction when his car darted for the other lane.

TAFC – ST. LOUIS

Jim Whiteley, who’s won big in Pro Mod and won it all, multiple times, in Top Alcohol Dragster, is fast closing in on a first major title in a third different category, Top Alcohol Funny Car. The two-time national event winner in NHRA Pro Mod and two-time world champion in Top Alcohol Dragster just missed winning the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Summer Speed Spectacular, outdriving the hands-down best Funny Car driver out there, Sean Bellemeur, in the final.

Just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis at multipurpose World Wide Technology Raceway, Whiteley narrowly lost to the toughest possible opponent, Bellemeur, the current MWDRS points leader and reigning series champion in both the MWDRS and NHRA series. “He left on me and had me beat,” Bellemeur admitted. “He’s going to be really, really successful in that Funny Car.”

Whiteley wasn’t so sure. “This thing’s a challenge,” he said of his new ride. “Having them lower the body down over you and having the transmission running between your legs doesn’t bother me, but even though I have a clutch pedal and rev it up on the starting line, driving a Funny Car is not the same as driving an Alcohol Dragster or a Pro Mod. At all. None of that experience helps at all.”

With a 3.68 at 210.47 mph, Whiteley wheeled his J&A Service/YNot Racing entry to an easy first-round win over 2021 MWDRS championship runner-up Chris Marshall, who broke, then won a round he didn’t particularly want to win, over his least-favorite opponent ever – his wife, Top Alcohol Funny Car veteran Annie Whiteley. He got out first with a clutch .042 reaction time and hung on to edge her slightly quicker 3.66 with a 3.67.

An almost identical .048 light in the final gave Whiteley a noticeable holeshot lead on Bellemeur, but Bellemeur narrowly ran down his event-best 3.66 at just 207 mph with a much quicker and faster 3.61/213 for a photo-finish win. “It had to be close,” Whiteley said. “I still only have 12 hits in this thing, and I’m still learning every time out, but I can say one thing without a doubt: this Funny Car is harder to drive than anything I’ve ever driven before.”

PRO MOD – ST. LOUIS

It’s been three years since Steven Whiteley last raced at World Wide Technology Raceway just outside St. Louis. Back then, he was still hitting 250 mph on the quarter-mile and his opponent at that race, the 2019 NHRA Midwest Nationals, was, of all people, his crew chief today, Brandon Snider. (Snider won, but Whiteley had him on the Tree.)

Now, the two work together, Snider making all the calls and Whiteley behind the wheel, and they can almost always be found in the upper reaches of the qualifying order. At the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Summer Speed Spectacular, the two again had the J&A Service/YNot Racing team’s spotless ’69 Camaro in the fast half of the field, but not as close to the top as usual – just seventh, with 3.770 at 201.16.

“We struggled all weekend,” Whiteley admitted. “The whole team did, really – all three of us. The track stumped us. The heat was part of it, sure, but all the other teams had to deal with it, too.” Nobody made it into the 3.60s, the whole top half of the field was in the .70s, and the first driver in the .80s, No. 10 qualifier Brian Lewis, was Whiteley’s first-round foe.

Long established as one of Pro Mod’s top leavers, regardless of the association, Whiteley had the best reaction time of all 16 drivers in the opening round, an outstanding .018. Lewis was right behind him with a .028 and matched his 3.813 qualifying time almost to the thousandth of a second for a winning 3.815 at 197.57 mph. Whiteley could’ve slowed down half a tenth and still won on a holeshot, but he fell way off, coasting across the eighth-mile mark with a just a 4.83 at about 100 mph for a dispiriting loss.

“It just took the tire off,” Whiteley said. “I don’t know what happened. This track whipped our asses all weekend. It was so hot, we’re just glad to get out of here. It’ll be nice to have some time off from racing to work and spend time with the family.”

One of the truly unique aspects of competing on the racer-friendly MWDRS tour is the lengthy three-month summer break it affords teams, most of which are led by independent entrepreneurs who spend that time between races literally taking care of business. After this welcome respite, the season finishes with a flourish, a three-race stretch from Sept. 9 to Oct. 22 with stops in Martin, Mich., Tulsa, and Ferris, Texas.

PRO MOD – TULSA

Everything was falling into place for second-generation Pro Mod driver Steven Whiteley at the Throwdown in T-Town – all the potential displayed in the first two races was on full display.

“The car was really running here,” he said. “Both lanes. That’s the thing about Tulsa. There’s that famous bump in left lane, but it doesn’t matter now because it’s after eighth mile. I’ve never seen a track where both lanes were truly as equal as they were this weekend. You don’t need a plan for the bad lane because now there is no bad lane.”

Thrown on top of the postponed Memphis Nationals – a whole other MWDRS national event in itself – the regularly scheduled Tulsa event was enough to put anyone on overload. Driving a powerful Pro Mod, plotting strategy round after round of Memphis Top Dragster eliminations with wife Delaina, and keeping an eye on their son’s Jr. Dragster was enough to frazzle anyone, but Whiteley gamely kept it all straight.

“One race was over and you’d turn around and be right into the next one,” he said. “It kind of got to be a blur; the rounds all started running together. All I remember was that the last round I won was on Friday night.” The first round for the originally scheduled Throwdown in T-Town was on Saturday, and Whiteley lost traction and had to lift against the ’68 Camaro of Brian Lewis, who’d barely qualified, 16th with a 3.81.

In the other lane, Lewis skied to a 4.07 but still squeaked into the quarterfinals against eventual runner-up Daniel Pharris. To compound Whiteley’s frustration, Lewis never made it to the line to make a race of it and Pharris advanced on a 3.72 single. Whiteley, who probably should have qualified No. 1 for the Memphis race, did qualify No. 1 for this one with an outstanding 3.638/207.08, pacing an enormous field of 25 cars from all over the middle of the country.

“I think I’ve only aborted three runs all year – one went toward the wall, it took the tire off on a qualifier in Memphis, and now here in the first round,” Whiteley said. “The car made it out there quite a way, started chattering, and then took the tire off, but for the most part it goes right down there every time. And it’s fast. [Crew chief] Brandon Snider is top notch. It’s nice to have a crew chief who understands exactly what it’s like from a driver’s point of view because he’s a really good driver himself.”

TAFC – TULSA

In the afterglow of the rescheduled Memphis race finished at Tulsa Raceway Park, one of the best overall events in team history, the Throwdown in T-Town turned out to be a major disappointment for YNot Racing, especially in Top Alcohol Funny Car, where both Annie and Jim Whiteley were upended in the first round.

Annie, who has a lifetime win-loss record of 14-4 (.778) in Tulsa, blew the tires off at the hit and fell to former nitro Funny Car racer Steve Macklyn, and Jim did likewise two pair later opposite second-generation driver Brian Brown. Macklyn’s and Brown’s winning times (3.77 and 3.95, respectively) only made the losses even more grating – neither was close to the Whiteleys’ qualifying performances, and both were gone one round later.

“We finished Memphis here, and the first and second round counted as the second and third qualifying runs for Tulsa,” Annie said. “We got an extra run because we were in the final [of the rescheduled Memphis event], and after that, I think it all got a little confusing for everybody.”

Annie qualified No. 3 for the Throwdown in T-Town with a 3.66 at 211.56 mph – quicker and faster than she’d just run to win the rescheduled Memphis event. Jim, racing his beautiful white Camaro for just the second time, wasn’t far behind, but neither cracked the six-second mark on the eighth-mile course in their brief stay in eliminations.

“You just won the Memphis race, and now you’re nothing?” asked Annie, who won back-to-back NHRA regionals here in in 2012 and 2013 and reached the final a third straight time in 2014. “Sometimes, I guess that’s just how it goes: in a few hours you really can go from a hero to a zero, just like they say. I don’t know what the hell happened up there – the car just didn’t make it that time. It took the tire off. Jim’s car did the exact same thing, and we didn’t change a thing on either one.”

PRO MOD – MEMPHIS

For Steven Whiteley, the Memphis makeup race at Tulsa Raceway Park will always be more about his teammates than it was about how he himself fared. Wife Delaina enjoyed the finest outing of her burgeoning Top Dragster career with a runner-up finish to his aunt, reigning MWDRS champion Anita Strasburg, and mom Annie Whiteley won Funny Car.

Not that Whiteley didn’t do just fine himself. He breezed into the top half of the field with a 3.73, lifting a little early because the quick, still-unfamiliar rack-and-pinion steering ratio made the car want to dart around on him. “That first run was just my seventh hit back in the car, and you definitely don’t want to oversteer, especially because it’s my dad’s – not mine,” he said. “But if it had been a full pull, that would’ve been straight to the top.”

The numbers bear it out. Every driver who qualified ahead of Whiteley made a hammer-down 200-mph blast through the traps, 20 mph faster than his coasting 183-mph run, yet those drivers were only incrementally quicker, with 3.71s, 3.72s, and 3.73s. Water seeped through the track to such an extent that eliminations had to be canceled in Memphis, and when they finally began, it was two weeks later and more than 400 miles away at Tulsa Raceway Park.

“That first weekend in Memphis was kinda rough,” said Whiteley, who ended up No. 6 with the early-shutoff 3.73/183. “It was just a never-ending battle with the track. We’d walk up there and check it out, there wouldn’t be enough runoff, and the water would collect so they could never get the track in shape for us to run.”

Under vastly different conditions in Tulsa, Whiteley definitively showed what that 3.73 in Memphis could have been by laying down a 3.66 in the first round (half a tenth quicker than No. 1 qualifier Dustin Nesloney’s 3.71 in that round) to wipe out track co-owner Todd Martin’s 3.76.

“This is all fresh, we’re coming off a break, and it’s like everything’s all new again,” he said. “I’m just loving this eighth-mile deal. I’m over the quarter-mile. After the eighth, it almost feels like the car is floating to the finish line. You’re just waiting for something to happen, and you’d better be ready to do something fast if it does. In the eighth-mile, the car’s carrying the front end the whole time, all the weight is on the ass end, and you’re charging all the way to the end. The whole race is more exciting, more intense.”

TAFC – MEMPHIS

In her first (and last) trip to Memphis International Raceway, Top Alcohol Funny Car star Annie Whiteley nailed down her first event title of the 2022 season. It just didn’t actually happen in Memphis.

Final eliminations were contested in Tulsa, where the rained-out originally scheduled event was completed because Memphis, home to numerous NHRA national events since it opened 35 years ago, is now closed, doomed forever, like so many race tracks these days, to a dreary future as commercial property.

“We got two qualifying runs in Memphis but never did run a round there,” Whiteley said. “You’ve never seen anybody want to race as much as [husband] Jim did, and he never got to. We kept trying to run and kept getting sent back to the pits. We were just going up for first round when water started coming back up through the track again and they called the race for good. At that point, there really wasn’t much they could do.”

Except move it to Mid-West Drag Racing Series headquarters in Tulsa, where Whiteley, who’s always done well there, mowed down the field for a convincing victory. At tracks more than 400 miles apart, she had everybody covered from beginning to end, starting with a 3.69 at an even 211.00-mph flat on the slippery Memphis strip and closing the deal with more 3.60s in Oklahoma.

With a whole ‘nother race to run (the originally scheduled Throwdown in T-Town), Funny Car teams were afforded just a single get-acquainted run before Memphis eliminations began in Tulsa, her childhood home. At the controls of the YNot/J&A Service missile, she went through everybody, easily outdistancing onetime nemesis Chris Marshall in the final. When his candy-red Camaro went silent at half-track, she sailed uncontested to a 3.68 win while he coasted across the finish line well behind her with a 5-flat.

TAFC – FERRIS

Instead of opening yet another season utterly dominating the NHRA Belle Rose Central Regional, where she’s never been beaten (five wins in a row – 2017-21), Top Alcohol Funny Car star Annie Whiteley kicked off 2022 with a final-round finish at the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Xtreme Texas Nationals.

Coming off a down year beset with traction problems, inconsistency, and, as ever, bad luck, Whiteley wheeled her Yenko-blue J&A Service/YNot Camaro to the No. 2 qualifying spot at the revamped Ferris, Texas facility. With a 3.60-flat at nearly 215 mph on the eighth-mile Xtreme Raceway Park course, she had everybody covered except incoming favorite Sean Bellemeur, the reigning NHRA and MWDRS series champion. Bellemeur was No. 1 with a 3.578/216.08, followed closely by Whiteley, 2021 series runner-up Chris Marshall (3.647/211.57), the up-and-coming family team of Steve Macklyn (3.759/205.48), second-generation driver Bryan Brown (3.815/203.25), and Florida transplant Mark Billington (4.331/193.80).

When eliminations commenced, Whiteley had even Bellemeur under her thumb, laying down low e.t. of the entire opening round, a 3.613 at 214.59 mph, to oust Brown, who put up a competitive 3.701 at 207.18 mph in the loss, just missing the 3.60s. Without running quite that quick (3.702/208.72), Marshall advanced into the semifinals over Macklyn, and Bellemeur was the next-quickest (and fastest) of the round with a 3.626/213.78 single when Billington was unable to appear.

In the semi’s, Bellemeur got another single and Whiteley moved into her first final of the new season with a wire-to-wire decision over Marshall’s Oregon-based team. She had the quicker reaction time, .061 to .072, and pulled away from there for a 3.594/215, her quickest, fastest run all weekend, to take out his 3.649/209.59. Another solid reaction time in the under-the-lights final, a clutch .040, did Whiteley little good when she ran into trouble downtrack and slowed to a 5.29 at 93 mph while Bellemeur disappeared into the distance with a winning 3.560/216.66.

PRO MOD – FERRIS

With a .008 reaction time on his first hit in years, Steven Whiteley made a triumphant return to Pro Mod at the Mid-West Drag Series’ Xtreme Raceway Park season opener. “It felt like I was in the car last week,” he said. “Not this car. This thing is an animal – it carries the front end 400 feet every time. This is gonnatake a little getting used to.”

The former NHRA national event champion, who will compete exclusively on the MWDRS tour from now on, qualified high and went rounds in his first outing since the final race of the 2019 NHRA campaign, the Dodge Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he locked down a Top 10 finish in the NHRA standings. “There was no ‘a-ha’ moment where I knew I was coming back,” Whiteley said. “I just knew I was never going back to NHRA. This Mid-West deal just fits. I can race with my whole family, and I love running the eighth-mile. Always have. I’ve done PDRA stuff, the Snowbirds, the Street Car Super Nationals, and the Bradenton season opener, and I’ve always loved this style of racing.”

After a few laps to “knock the cobwebs off,” as he termed it, Whiteley wheeled father Jim Whiteley’s Brandon Snider-tuned ’69 Camaro to three remarkably consistent qualifying times: 3.62, 3.61, and 3.61, all at from 207 to 209 mph. He qualified fifth for a record field that attracted 29 entries and dispatched Jerry Hunt’s fine 3.69/203 in the first round with a superior 3.66/206, then had to step off the throttle in the quarterfinals, nullifying what would have been a sure win over Taylor Lastor.

“The car was moving to the right,” Whiteley said. “It’s going, going, going, and the front end’s in the air, so there’s nothing you can do about it. There comes a point when you have to lift. It’s not my car – it’s my dad’s. That’s always in the back of your mind.” With two choices – lift and lose or plow into the wall, be disqualified, and lose – Whiteley took his foot out of the throttle, coasting to a 5.05 at 95 mph, while Lastor gratefully scooped up the round-win with just a 3.90, then broke on the burnout next round.

« Older posts

© 2022 YNot Racing

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑