Tag: whiteley

PRO MOD – BRISTOL 2019

Jim Whiteley’s had it with his ’69 Chevelle. “This thing is officially parked,” he said at Thunder Valley Dragway in the rolling hills of Bristol, Tenn., after another disappointing DNQ. “Bigfoot can drive over this thing and crush it, as far as I’m concerned – that actually would be worth more to me than whatever I could sell it for. People come up at every race and say how much they love it, but it just won’t run.”

Whiteley wheeled the Yenko Blue Chevelle, one of the most popular cars – if not the most – on the entire NHRA Pro Mod tour, to 5-second times in three of four qualifying sessions, but even “Stevie Fast” Jackson, who’s led the standings all season and who recently joined the J&A Service/YNot team to lend his tuning expertise, hasn’t been able to get much out of it. Whiteley ran a 5.98 Friday afternoon for the early qualifying lead and picked up to a 5.92 at just 232 mph that evening to enter Saturday qualifying 17th on the grid, one spot out of the field. A tire-shaking, shutoff 8.90 in Q3 and a 5.97 late Saturday afternoon in last-shot qualifying rendered him a non-qualifier for the sixth time in six 2019 starts.

“We put more [transmission] ratio in for that last one,” Whiteley said. “Didn’t matter. It was already way leaner than you’d ever think you could get away with. Same thing – didn’t matter. I don’t know what it is. It’ll stay with anybody early, but from half-track on it doesn’t go anywhere. This car has a mind of its own. People ask if I’m discouraged, but I’m really not. I’m done with this thing – it’s time – but I’m excited about where Stevie has this program going. He just does not quit. He’s already found things, he has good things coming, and the new car [a Tommy Mauney-built ’63 Corvette the team will take delivery of this week] is going to haul ass.”

“I’ve never failed at anything like I have with this car,” said Jackson, as transparent and no-nonsense as ever. ” I’ve taken parts straight off my car and put them on this one and it still won’t run. I’ve had it so lean that if it was my car it would have blown up at 400 feet and the plugs still have all the cad on them. You know what I want to do? Take this thing up on that giant hill at the other end of the track and push it off the cliff. They can even leave me in it if they want. I’ll just say this: When we get the new car, it’s going to run. Jim’s going to be on the pole, I guarantee you.”

TAFC – POMONA 2016

It wasn’t epic like 2015, when she led the national standings for months and remained in championship contention right down to the last day of the season, but 2016 ended up another solid season for Annie Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Racing team.

At the NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., Whiteley wrapped up a half-decade of Alcohol Funny Car competition with a winning record for the fourth time in five years and a fourth Top 10 finish in the national standings.

Whiteley qualified ninth in the fastest field in history with an outstanding 5.52 at more than 270 mph – a time that would have been good for the fast half of the field at any other race, ever – but got a tough first-round draw, nemesis Shane Westerfield, who was even quicker with a 5.50. Both passes came in the opening qualifying session, putting them 1-2 on the provisional grid before both were knocked down seven spots to the exact middle of the field in subsequent qualifying sessions.

Racing in the first pair of the first round as Nos. 8 and 9 qualifiers often do, Westerfield won by matching his qualifying time with another 5.50-flat. Whiteley left hard but slowed on the top end, coasting across the finish line with a smoky 5.88 at just 190 mph.

Whiteley and the J&A Service/YNot team head into the offseason with yet another Top 10 finish (8th), another winning record, 16-15 (.516), and three final-round appearances – one at a divisional event (Woodburn) and the other two at back-to-back national events, Brainerd and Indy.

TAFC – LAS VEGAS REGIONAL 2 2016

Racing for the third time in a week at the same facility – her best track on the circuit, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Annie Whiteley qualified high in a field so tough that six of the eight non-qualifiers were former national event champs.

After opening with a 5.56 at 266.79 mph, Whiteley went up in smoke immediately on her second of three qualifying attempts and improved slightly to a 5.561/267.00 mph in last-shot qualifying to lock down the No. 2 spot for good. She trailed only DJ Cox, runner-up a week earlier at the Las Vegas national event, who ran slightly quicker than her (5.541 and 5.539) on side-by-side runs for the No. 1 spot.

Paired against Nick Januik, also a former winner of the Vegas national event, in round one, Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot team advanced with a consistent 5.57/267.00 while Januik’s Las Vegas-based car struggled for traction in a 5.85/242 loss. It got no easier from there: all four semifinalists are currently in the Top 10 in the NHRA national standings – Whiteley (8th), Doug Gordon (3rd), Shane Westerfield (7th), and Terry Ruckman (4th). Second-ranked John Lombardo was knocked out in the first round of eliminations and 2015-16 national champ Jonnie Lindberg didn’t even qualify.

The semifinals turned out to be just as brutal as expected: the E.T.s were 5.55, 5.56, 5.57, and 5.58, at speeds from 262 to 267 mph. Whiteley was the quickest (5.555) and the fastest (267.27 mph – top speed of the meet), but came out on the wrong end of a tight 5.55-5.57 match with Gordon despite a better-than-average .078 reaction time. Gordon was off the mark first with a .051, held on to win, and defeated Westerfield in the final to sweep the last two regional events of the season and secure his first Vegas wins ever.

Whiteley finishes fourth in the toughest region in the country and currently stands eighth in the national standings with one race left on the schedule. With a victory at the season-ending Finals next weekend in Pomona, Calif., she can still make the national Top 5.

TAFC – LAS VEGAS NATIONAL 2016

Annie Whiteley’s snake-bitten J&A Service/YNot team qualified in the fast half of the field for the 12th time in 13th starts this season, but for the third race in a row was out early with a disappointing first-round loss.

At the Toyota Nationals at her best track on the NHRA circuit, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where she won the first race of her career as a Top Alcohol Funny Car rookie in 2012, she fell to former Gatornationals winner Ulf Leanders in what, by the numbers, should have been the closest race of the first round.

They qualified eighth and ninth with matching 5.60s, Whiteley in the No. 8 spot with a 5.603 and Leanders No. 9 with a 5.606. Such matchups usually go to the driver with the better reaction time, which, in this case, was Whiteley, who bolted off the line first with one of her best lights of the season, an outstanding .039.

Leanders matched their qualifying times with another 5.60-flat, so Whiteley would have won with anything better than a 5.63, but she knocked the tires loose in low gear. Racing in the first pair of the first round, at the ungodly hour of 8:30 a.m., she recovered quickly and charged after him, but a 5.77 at just short of 260 mph left her J&A Service/YNot Camaro a few car lengths behind at the finish line.

By any metric, it was one of the toughest Top Alcohol Funny Car races ever held. It featured one of the biggest fields in years – 28 cars attempted to qualify – and one of the fastest, with a bump of 5.66 and former NHRA event winners in the first five alternate spots on the final qualifying ladder.

Whiteley stands seventh in the national standings, with two more races coming up at Las Vegas – the makeup of the rained-out West Region opener scheduled for April in the middle of the week while the SEMA show is going on 15 miles away, and the regularly scheduled West closer set for next weekend.

PRO MOD – ST. LOUIS 2016

Back with the other top runners in Sunday eliminations, Jim Whiteley advanced to the quarterfinals at St. Louis in his best outing since he beat soon-to-be 2016 world champ Rickie Smith in the wild Houston final for his first NHRA Pro Mod title.

At the wheel of his powerful J&A Service/YNot Racing ’69 Chevelle, Whiteley forced his way into the tough AAA Nationals field with a 5.94 at 235 mph Friday afternoon and hung in there with a 5.93/243 Saturday morning. That afternoon in the first round of eliminations, qualified just 14th in the field, Whiteley lined up against No. 3 qualifier Sidnei Frigo, the Brazilian whose frightening over-the-wall crash at Houston made it possible for Whiteley to get back into the race as an alternate and eventually win.

Whiteley drilled Frigo with a telepathic .009 reaction time and drove away from Frigo’s state-of-the-art ’16 Corvette to win handily. “With Chuck’s clutch, you almost can’t not cut a good light,” Whiteley said of his new crew chief, master blower builder Chuck Ford, a former door-car driver himself. “We did three or four hits in testing, and the lights kept coming up -.005 red, -.001 red, -.002 red – the same thing every time. The spread was so close that Chuck said, ‘Stay right where you’re at and we’ll adjust it and be good,’ and he was right.”

Whiteley’s winning time against Frigo, who was off the throttle early, was a 5.90-flat, his best run all year outside of Indy. In qualifying, son Steven Whiteley ran even better – a 5.87 at 247 mph for the No. 8 spot – but he fell by the wayside in a first-round loss to Smith, who virtually locked up his third J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod championship with a runner-up to Troy Coughlin.

Jim was out one round later when he blew the tires off against past Top Fuel and Pro Mod winner Khalid alBalooshi – but not before getting the jump with another great reaction time, .021. “It’s just great to be going down the track again,” he said. “The car’s running better and better, no doubt about it.”

The NHRA Pro Mod season officially ends after the next race, the Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas – but not for Whiteley, who’ll be “racing” in Comp next weekend at Dallas. Actually, he won’t be racing at all; he’ll just be using that race to test for Vegas under the only kind of conditions drivers see at NHRA events – an NHRA-prepped track. “We’ll just treat every qualifying run a test run,” Whiteley said. “Same thing in the first round. If I accidently beat somebody with a good run, we’ll bypass the scales so they can get back in. We don’t want to mess anybody up – we just want to test under NHRA national event conditions.”

TAFC – SEATTLE 2016

Running better than she ever has – including four straight runs in the mid- to low-5.40s – defending Northwest Nationals champ Annie Whiteley reached the semifinals and continued her long climb back up the national Top Alcohol Funny Car standings.

In last-shot qualifying, the J&A Service YNot Racing team, just No. 7 in the field at the time with a usually great but suddenly ordinary 5.53, unloaded their all-time-best, 5.42, one of the greatest runs in class history, for the No. 1 spot. The speed, 271.13 mph was also a career best, and the 5.42 was good for not just low e.t. of the meet but also a new track E.T. record.

“I had no idea that it was a .42, but I could tell it was a good one just by how early the shift-light came on in both gears,” Whiteley said. “When I got out of the car down at the top end, it seemed like Funny Car driver that pulled off the end of the track had just set a career-best. It was ‘Candy Land’ for everybody. The air was really, really good and the track was perfect.

It took an unbelievable 5.51 to make the fast half of the field, and every car but one was at least in the mid-5.50s. Awarded a first-round bye run for being the No. 1 qualifier in a field with an odd number of cars, Whiteley ran a 5.45 – one of three mid-5.40s in eliminations – that would’ve crushed whatever hapless No. 16 qualifier had pulled into opposite lane had there been a full field.

Pitted against three-time Seattle winner Brian Hough in the quarterfinals, Whiteley ran a 5.46 to trounce Hough’s otherwise excellent 5.49 in the kind of race that typified the entire event. Another 5.45 in the semifinals, one of the last pairs completed before the skies finally opened for good and washed out the remainder of the event, wasn’t quite enough. The J&A/YNot team came out on the wrong side of a race nobody deserved to lose when opponent Nick Januik matched his career-best with an identical 5.45 and punctuated it with a .016 light.

“It’s too bad,” said Whiteley, who’d never lost to Januik before. “He had a .091 and a .092 the two rounds prior, but he pulled it out, so you have to give him credit.” Now seventh in the national standings, with fewer races claimed than nine of the other top 10, Whiteley and crew head to Brainerd, Minn, where in her rookie year she reached her first national event final.

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