Tag: Winternationals


At the prestigious Winternationals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Raceway, one of the few tracks at which she hasn’t already won at least once, Annie Whiteley came through with one of her best reaction times ever to trounce one of biggest names in the business, feared leaver Shane Westerfield.

With a near-perfect .007 light, Whiteley drilled Westerfield on the Tree and drove away with low E.T. of the meet to that point. Westerfield, driving for the RJM superteam owned by Kathy Jackson, wife of the late Rick Jackson, was more than on time with a respectable .059 reaction time, but Whiteley was noticeably ahead and opened the lead from there with an outstanding 5.49 at 265.80 mph to cover Westerfield’s otherwise fine 5.54/264 by more than a car length.

“They handed me the ticket and I saw that .007 and thought, ‘That can’t be mine. It must be Shane’s, ” Whiteley said. “He’s the one who’s always cutting .00 lights – not me. But he said, ‘That’s not mine, Annie. That’s all you.’ I couldn’t believe it.”

Whiteley’s “Shattered Glass” Camaro came off the trailer with a decent 5.56 at 263.46 mph (just shy of top speed of the meet to that point) that left her No. 2 on the provisional grid behind only the surprising Hunter Jones, who would go on to enjoy the finest outing of his young Top Alcohol Funny Car career. After an aborted 7.52 on what turned out to be their only other attempt, the J&A Service/YNot Racing team entered eliminations fourth on the grid, set to face Westerfield, the 2017 national champion who virtually never qualifies in the slow half of the field.

In the lanes, readying for a crucial semifinal match with Jones, Whiteley dove for cover when the skies opened, pummeling cars and drivers with golf-ball-sized hail, and an hour later the race was postponed. When it resumed three weeks later at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in conjunction with Four-Wide Nationals qualifying, Whiteley was upset, 5.59/262 to a shutoff 7.97/117, by the upstart Jones, who then lost a close final to Brian Hough.


Annie Whiteley pounded out some of her best runs in years en route to a respectable quarterfinal finish at the NHRA Winternationals, which, this year, wasn’t actually run in the winter. At would more accurately have been termed the “Springnationals,” the six-time national event champion laid down a 5.45 in qualifying, improved to a 5.44, and knocked off Nick Januik before falling in the quarterfinals to eventual runner-up Shane Westerfield.

Whiteley, whose lone final-round appearance at Pomona came at the 2017 World Finals, where she was runner-up to John Lombardo, began eliminations from the lofty No. 2 qualifying position, behind only world champ Doug Gordon, who ran a mere two-thousandths of a second quicker than her 5.441 with a 5.439.

Pitted against former national event winner Januik in the first pair of the first round, Whiteley advanced easily with one of the quickest and fastest runs of the entire weekend, a 5.460 at 267.27 mph. Januik blew the tires off early and was left in the dust with a shut-off 11-second time.

Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaro launched just as hard in the quarterfinals against the notoriously quick-leaving Westerfield, who was driving the late Rick Jackson’s car for possibly the final time. She left right with the 2017 world champ, but in the middle of the course the car hunted around, straying perilously close to the centerline and stubbornly camping out there until she finally lifted.

“It shook the tires, I pedaled, and here came the centerline,” Whiteley said. “I pedaled it again, but it went right back over there. I kept bringing it back but it just kept going to the right, and finally I just said, ‘Nope, that’s enough,’ and shut off. It’s too bad, too – the car was trying to run good all weekend.” It was doubly bad, actually: the winner of that round had a bye to the final.

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