Tag: steve

PRO MOD – ATLANTA 2016

On his only run at the NHRA Southern Nationals, Pro Mod racer Steve Whiteley crashed for the first time in his career … and still qualified with a 5.96 at just 206 mph. “Not bad – a five-second run probably breaking the beam with the right header,” he joked. “Crashed on our only run and still made the show.”

Whiteley banged into Atlanta Dragway’s unforgiving left wall, but not nearly as hard as he could have because he got the chutes out just in time. “The car was fighting its way to the right the whole time, and I kept trying to get it to move back into the groove,” he said. “By the time I decided, ‘No, it’s not worth it,’ and lifted, all the weight shifted. That’s when it made its way over the centerline.”

When opponent Shane Molinari saw Whiteley’s J&A Services/YNot Cadillac veer across both lanes after the lights and sideswipe the wall, Molinari – who had to pedaled twice and had already given up on the run – jammed on the brakes and immediately was sideways and pointed at the opposite wall. He slammed into it while Whiteley was well beyond the finish line, bouncing off the left wall in a shower of sparks and rolling safely to a stop on all four wheels.

“The chute coming out as quick as it did really saved me,” Whiteley said. “There was definitely a little pucker factor going on, but I was focused on not hitting wall head-on. In a situation like that, you don’t think – it’s all reaction. By the time I had cognitive thoughts, I was more pissed than scared. I figured that was gonna be the last time I got to drive a race car, but my dad said, ‘He’s fine,’ and my mom was OK.”

The impact caved in the rear quarterpanel, smashed up the headers and left door, and trashed the left door tree. “It was a lot of little stuff, really – nothing too big,” Whiteley said. “The left side of the car is dinged up, but the actual chassis itself is OK. I’m just glad it happened now, right when we were about to have some downtime.”

It’s a full three weeks until the J&A Service Pro Mod Series picks back up with events in three consecutive weeks – Englishtown (June 10-12), Bristol (June 17-19), and Norwalk (June 24-26). “The car’s already at [chassis builder Jerry] Haas’ shop getting fixed, and we’ll be testing it in a week or two,” Whiteley said. “By the time we get to E-Town, we’ll be ready to go.”

PRO MOD – GAINESVILLE 2016

Coming off a career-best stretch to close the 2015 NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod season and fresh off a big win at the RPM (Real Pro Mod) event earlier this month in West Palm Beach, Fla., Steven Whiteley was riding an all-time high entering the NHRA Gatornationals.

Driving the supercharged YNot Racing Cadillac, Whiteley was as high as 8th in the field at world-famous Gainesville Raceway but had the misfortune in the first round to line up opposite his nemesis, eventual winner Rickie Smith, who laid down low e.t. of the meet at the time, a 5.78 – the seventh-quickest run in Pro Mod history. “With a low-5.90 two years ago, when I debuted here, you’d be in the top three,” said Whiteley, who lost despite an otherwise excellent 5.90. “Now, that puts you in the slow half of the field. It’s not enough when guys are running .80s and even .70s. Everybody just keeps getting faster and faster and that’s cool, that’s how it should be. We should be running that too, and in certain conditions, we do.”

Whiteley shook and shut off on his opening qualifying attempt and stormed to a 5.92 at 246 mph in the second session, and it’s a good thing he did: He was pushed off the starting line in the final session. “The bolts on the back side of the ring gear came lose,” he explained. “I didn’t know exactly what it was, but it would roll freely and then lock up, roll freely and then lock up, so I knew it had to be something in the rear end. If that had been eliminations, I would’ve parked it in the beams and hoped the other guy made a mistake, but on a qualifying run there was nothing to do but shut it off.”

Whiteley made his best run of the weekend when it counted most, in the first round, but his 5.90 wasn’t enough against Smith’s 5.78 – even though the J&A driver drilled him on the Tree with a .053 reaction time. “I don’t know where Rickie came up with that, but we didn’t go for it and he did,” Whiteley said. “We’re better than that. Right now, what we struggle with is high-humidity conditions. It just kills the power and makes it shake the tires. When it does get down, it’s dead slow. When we have ‘Disneyland’ conditions, we’re tough, and we’re going to see those conditions again soon.”

PRO MOD – CHARLOTTE 2015

In the best overall performance of their Pro Mod careers, the father-and-son team of Jim and Steven Whiteley qualified solidly in the all-five-second field at the Carolina Nationals and advanced deep into eliminations – Jim reached the quarterfinals for the second race in a row, and Steven made it to the semifinals for the first time in his young career. “Finally,” Steven said. “What a relief. I was hoping Dad and I would race each other in the semi’s so that one of us was sure to be in the final, but it didn’t quite work out that way.”

Driving his popular YNot Racing/J&A Service ’14 Cadillac CTS-V, Steven went from outside the field all the way to the No. 4 spot in last-ditch qualifying with an outstanding 5.89 at 247.93 mph, one of the quickest runs of his career and his fastest speed all year. It was his second 5.80 qualifying effort in a row, including a 5.88 two weeks ago at the U.S. Nationals.

Jim clocked a 5.94 on his second qualifying attempt for the provisional No. 7 spot on the grid, slipped to 13th by the time he got back to the line for Saturday’s lone session, then picked up to a 5.92 at 245 mph to shoot back up to the 10th spot. Numerous past event winners – Don Walsh (No. 18, 6.00), Jay Payne (No. 19, 6.02), reigning series champ Rickie Smith (No. 22, 6.05), Kenny Lang (No. 23, 6.05), and Mike Castellana (No. 25, 6.12) failed to make the cut.

When eliminations for the third-to-last race of the 10-race 2015 J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod series kicked off, both Whiteleys powered through the first round, trailering a pair of “name” drivers. Jim got around Gatornationals winner and early season points leader Bob Rahaim in a great race, leaving first by a few thousandths of a second and leading Rahaim door handle to door handle right to the lights for a thrilling 5.93 to 5.94 win. The margin of victory was just 15-thousandths of a second. One pair later, Steven strapped a huge holeshot on veteran Chip King and drove away from him, not just winning but establishing low e.t. of the entire round with a 5.92.

Sunday in round two, Steven knocked off one of the biggest stars in Pro Mod, Englishtown winner Bill Glidden, son of legendary Pro Stock racer Bob Glidden, with the second-quickest run of the round, 5.93. Jim’s ’69 Chevelle dropped that round to eventual winner Danny Rowe, 6.08 to 10.11, after getting a slight jump at the line. Steven also left on Rowe in the semifinals but came out on the wrong end of a much closer race, 5.91 to 5.99.

“We just missed the setup that time,” Steven said. “It was way too soft, our worst full run of the weekend, and I could tell right away. I Tree’d him, and I still saw his fender right away. As soon as we got past the Tree, I knew. He never really did pull away from me, but I couldn’t get around him.”

With just a few days off before the penultimate event of the season, Jim and Steven head to Gateway Int’l Raceway in St. Louis with a ton of momentum eyeing the very real prospect of the YNot Racing/J&A Service team’s first Pro Mod title.

PRO MOD – INDY 2015

The 2015 U.S. Nationals represented a huge step forward for the entire YNot Racing/J&A Service team. Not only did Annie Whiteley runner-up in Top Alcohol Funny Car and Joey Severance win Top Alcohol Dragster, but Pro Mod drivers Jim and Steve Whiteley turned in some of their finest performances of the season.

To qualify for the quickest field in the history of the J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod series (5.94 bump), Jim ripped off a 5.92 for the No. 15 spot. Steven did even better, making his best run all year and qualifying No. 7 with an outstanding 5.882 – one-thousandth of a second quicker than his 5.883 last year at Englishtown. “It’s been a long time and a lot of work by this whole team, but I think our program is really turning around now,” said Steven, whose car was on rails throughout qualifying. After back-to-back 5.92s at 245 mph in the first two sessions, he wheeled his ’14 CTS-V to a 5.89 at 246 and picked up even further to a 5.88 at 247 in Sunday’s last-shot session.

Jim got his ’69 Chevelle on the provisional grid with an off-the-trailer 6-flat, spun on the next qualifying run and slipped to a 6.06 on the next one, but he came through with a clutch 5.92 at 244 in last-ditch qualifying to crack the final lineup. With more than twice as many cars (33) in attendance as there were spots in the 16-car field, everyone knew that making the cut would be a major accomplishment, but no one could have predicted that a record bump would be established in such hot and humid conditions. Former series champion Mike Castellana, past Indy winner Jim Bell, and incoming points leader Bob Rahaim all failed to qualify.

Steven’s weekend came to an abrupt end when he ran into tire shake in the first round against nemesis “Tricky Rickie” Smith, the defending NHRA Pro Mod champ. Jim whipped No. 2 qualifier Sidnei Frigo, the former Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Fuel driver, in their first-round matchup, drilling the Brazilian on the Tree and driving away from him for a 5.96 to 5.97 victory. He then strapped a holeshot on Smith Monday in round two but ran into trouble downtrack and fell to Smith’s subpar 6.08.

Just three races remain on the 2015 J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod tour – Charlotte and St. Louis on back-to-back weekends later this month, and Las Vegas Oct. 29-Nov. 1.

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