Tag: win


After qualifying somewhere other than No. 1 for the first time all year, Top Alcohol Funny Car star Annie Whiteley, who had set the pace five times in a row, earned the fifth and perhaps most satisfying national event victory of her career at the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. Starting from No. 2, Whiteley wheeled the powerful YNot Racing Camaro to one 5.40-something after another in a race-day performance that culminated in a final-round decision over recent nemesis DJ Cox that catapulted her to first place in the national standings.

With veteran crew chief, former Top Fuel pilot, and accomplished practical joker Mike Strasburg calling the shots, Whiteley reeled off 5.40s in every round to eradicate the painful memory a holeshot loss a week earlier in Richmond against the very driver she faced down in the final round this time. “This has got to be just about just the best win ever,” said Whiteley, who also scored at the national level in Chicago in 2013, Las Vegas and Seattle in 2015, and Gainesville last year. “The car was perfect all weekend – it pretty much has been all year – and it just feels so good to win a big race like this, especially after what happened last week at Richmond.”

Whiteley’s YNot team missed qualifying in the top spot for the first time all season when Swede Ulf Leanders assumed the early qualifying lead with a 5.46 and claimed it for good with a subsequent 5.42. She opened with a 5.52 and began eliminations from the No. 2 spot with a 5.46. From there, it was nothing but total domination, a string of 5.40s at 270-plus mph to trailer defending event champ Johan Lindberg, 2013-2014 winner Dan Pomponio, 2012 winner Andy Bohl, and, in the final, Cox, one of the four drivers to ever run in the 5.30s.

Whiteley established low e.t. of eliminations with a 5.43 against Pomponio, and, after an hour-plus wait to run the final following Stevie Jackson’s spectacular double-wall crash in the Pro Mod final, seemed to have everything under control until she hit the button for high gear not knowing the race was already hers. “The car just went crazy,” she said. “For a second I almost thought I was going to crash, but I stayed in it.” Her reward was a satisfying, vindicating win over Cox, who had barely beaten her on a holeshot eight days earlier in Richmond, Va.

Whiteley, who has reached at least the semifinals in all six starts this season, went the distance for the second time in 2018, including her season-opening regional win at No Problem Raceway in the swaps of Louisiana. “I didn’t try to make something happen this time,” this time. “I just trusted myself to cut a light and believed that the car would be there when it really counted, and it was.”


Annie Whiteley opened the 2018 season just as she did in 2017 – with a dominant win in the swamps of bayou country at the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at No Problem Raceway in Belle Rose, La. With one good run after another she was never headed, but that barrage in the preliminary rounds did her no good when it was time for the only round that mattered – the final.

Due to mechanical issues, travel problems, and the vagaries of early season scheduling, just two of the many teams slated to be in the lanes for the first qualifying session actually were: Whiteley’s YNot team and the Hool Bros.’ SK Tools crew from Wyoming. That meant no first round, no semifinals – just one run for the title.

“There’s always going to be nerves when you’re in a final,” said Whiteley, whose YNot Racing team, led by crew chief Mike Strasburg, had pounded out consecutive runs ranging between a track-record 5.44 at 271 mph and a 5.51 at 270. When the call went out for teams to report to the lanes for the final round, there was no buildup, nothing to draw from.

“It wasn’t like a normal final, where you’ve won all these other rounds to get there,” Whiteley said. “Every other final I’ve been in, at least I could say, ‘Well, I won the first round. I won the semi’s.’ This time, we both just rolled up there and whatever was going to happen was going to happen.” What happened was Whiteley left with a solid .075 reaction time and had it all the way with a steady 5.51 at 270.50 mph. Hool red-lighted, shut off, and coasted to a 10.89 at less than 100 mph. “That was one of the hardest runs I’ve ever made,” Whiteley said. “It’s just you and him. The whole weekend came down to that one run.”


In her first appearance ever at No Problem Raceway, Annie Whiteley built off the momentum from her breakthrough Gatornationals win last month, her biggest in years, with a second victory in just three 2017 starts, dominating from the outset and leaving with low e.t., top speed, and both ends of the track record.

“The car was smooth every run,” Whiteley said. “The guys were chasing the heat and the track, and they really stayed on top of it. They kept adjusting the tire pressure and timing because the track was getting hotter but basically left it alone and the car kept repeating. The left lane was good and the right was a little iffy so you really wanted to keep lane choice, and we had it every time.”

Deadly consistency – a 5.57, 5.55, and 5.56 in eliminations, all three at exactly 268 mph – carried the J&A Service/YNot Racing team to the title in tiny Belle Rose, La., about an hour north of New Orleans. Whiteley set not just low e.t. and top speed but low e.t. and top speed of all three rounds of eliminations after shattering the track e.t. and speed marks with a 5.508 at 268.80 mph in qualifying.

After a solid 5.57 on the first-round single she earned by qualifying No. 1, Whiteley took out two-time national event winner Kris Hool in the semi’s with a 5.55. In the final against Bryan Brown, the only other driver in the 5.50s this weekend, she pounded out an almost identical 5.55 to easily turn back Brown’s trouble-plagued, up-in-smoke 6.42.

“It was a great weekend,” Whiteley said. “No Problem is out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a nice, long track, which was great – we had a chute failure three runs in a row. Not both chutes, thank God, or there could have been a problem, but there was plenty of room to get stopped anyway. We tried so hard last year and never came home with any Wallys. Now we’ve only been to three races and we’ve already got two.”


Annie Whiteley made the two greatest runs of her career in the semifinals and final round of the NHRA Gatornationals for her fourth career national title and first since Seattle in 2015.

“Sometimes you wonder if things are ever going to go your way again, but a weekend like this makes it all worthwhile,” said Whiteley, who ran a 5.40 (low e.t. of the meet) to edge defending champion John Lombardo in the semifinals and a 5.41 on a final-round single when 2013-2014 Gatornationals winner Dan Pomponio was unable to appear. “The car was just unbelievable all weekend.”

Despite an outstanding 5.45, Whiteley qualified just fifth in the field, then survived major scares in the early round of eliminations. In the opening round, she was just about to get strapped in for what she thought was a single when she was informed that, due to a mistake by NHRA officials, she would not have a bye run but instead would be racing Bill Naves. “We were really going for it that time because with a bye run, why not?” she said. “If it makes it, you know how hard you can push it for the next round, and if it doesn’t, you win anyway because there’s no one in the other lane.”

The car didn’t make it, shaking the tires violently and giving Naves, who qualifying attempt, a shot at the biggest round win of his NHRA career. Fortunately for the J&A Service/YNot Racing team, Whiteley was able to get the powerful beast back under control in time to blow past Naves for a 6.44 to 8.11 win.

In the quarterfinals, Whiteley got a scare of a different kind when opponent Andy Bohl, who had run one 5.4 after another until that point, veered completely into her lane, just missing her. “I’m glad I didn’t see how close he got,” she said. “People had pictures of it and were trying to show me, and I said, ‘I don’t want to think about that.’ ”

She advanced with a solid 5.51, then unloaded the 5.40 on Lombardo, the No. 1 qualifier, and beating him by one-thousandth of a second, stealing low e.t. from him (5.404 to his 5.409) to win a photo-finish decision. Both of them hit 273 mph in the fastest-side-by-side race of all time.

In the final, with the track to herself, she eclipsed her one-run-old career-best speed of 273.05 with a 273.22-mph blast. “It’s weird being on a single in the final,” she said. “You think of the ignition quitting or some dumb little thing breaking. What happens then? Does nobody win? I left, and it was just a perfect run. The front end came up, settled back down, came back up again when I hit second gear and just ran perfectly straight to the finish line. I wish every run could be like that.”

© 2024 YNot Racing

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑