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.