After winning Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car at the same track a week earlier at the Lucas Oil Series event, Jim and Annie Whiteley both were upset in the quarterfinals at the SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jim, who qualified No. 1 in Top Alcohol Dragster, smoked the tires at the hit against Megan McKernan in TA/D, and Annie was victimized by a .010 reaction time by Jirka Kaplan in TA/FC.
Jim had the quickest e.t. of both qualifying sessions (5.351 and 5.340) and also in the first round of eliminations, which he won with a 5.324 at 268.22 mph that held up as low e.t. and top speed of the entire event. Anything would have been enough that time – he earned a bye for qualifying No. 1 – but in round two, the J&A Service/YNot dragster went up in smoke as soon as the clutch came out.
“[Crew chief] Norm [Grimes] took timing out, put more air in the tires, and did every other thing he knew to do to get the car down the track because there wasn’t much traction there,” Jim said. “It was the same thing that happened in the final round at Phoenix, only instead of going 30 or 40 feet, it went about two inches. We had the car to beat, but we beat ourselves that time.”
Annie qualified a solid 5th and sailed through the first round of eliminations with a 5.64 to 5.72 win over 2004 Las Vegas runner-up Mark Woznichak, but her weekend came to an unexpected halt against Kaplan. “I don’t usually notice the car in the other lane, but he was out there just enough that I could see him,” she said. “I even saw his win-light come on. It would have taken the best light of my life to beat him. And that’s not the first time he’s done that to somebody – he cuts lights like that all the time with that trans-brake. We can’t complain about the trip, though. The car ran well, and, overall, it was a pretty awesome 10 days.”
With two victories and a runner-up, Jim still leads the NHRA national standings in Top Alcohol Dragster. Annie, who finished fourth last year in her rookie campaign, now stands fifth in Top Alcohol Funny Car. Next up is the 4-Wide Nationals at spectacular zMax Dragway, where the Whiteleys will compete for the first time.