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.