At the Lucas Oil Regional at Heartland Park Topeka, Annie Whiteley and the J&A Service/YNot Racing team reached new depths of frustration in what to this point has been a trying season. One of the clear-cut favorites to win, as she has been at every race this season, Whiteley, who had veteran Lance Van Hauen covered by more than two-tenths of a second going into their first-round matchup, never made it to the starting line.
After qualifying a No. 2 with a 5.70-flat at more than 254 mph, just three-hundredths of a second behind No. 1 qualifier and eventual runner-up John Lombardo Jr., Whiteley coasted helplessly down the track when her car lost fire after the burnout. “It just quit,” she said. A tiny screw that fastens an ignition wire to the data recorder failed, instantly silencing Whiteley’s powerful engine and granting Van Hauen, who had qualified No. 7 with a 5.94, a bye run to victory.
“We made a lot of withdrawals from the ‘luck bank’ the first year I raced Top Alcohol Funny Car , and I guess we’re paying it back now,” Whiteley said. “We just got taken out by a 50-cent part. It would be nice if that could have happened in testing or in qualifying somewhere after we were already in, but it had to happen then. I’ve been sent down the track in the rain three times this year, and we’ve had little parts break and stupid things happen to us all season. It’s just been one thing after another.”
“We got to the final at Tulsa, and it was 5.61 to 5.62 and we lost. I can take that – no problem,” said crew chief Roger Bateman. “But to lose like this … it’s just a lot tougher to swallow. What can I say? It’s been one of those years.”