Whiteleys lock down NHRA titles

Capping a successful year for YNot Racing with one more win is the goal of Grand Junction husband-wife drag racers Jim and Annie Whiteley this weekend.

Jim Whitely rolls into the Automobile Club of Southern California Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., with the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster national championship and Western Region title in tow. Meanwhile, Annie Whiteley claimed an NHRA Western Region title in Top Alcohol Funny Car in her rookie season.

After several years of near-misses on the national level, Jim Whiteley, who started driving Top Alcohol Dragster in 2006, clinched this year’s national championship on the strength of victories in six national events and three regional events.

When former Division 7 champ Chris Demke lost in the first round of last weekend’s Western Region finale in Las Vegas, it clinched the region championship for Jim Whiteley.

“(Crew chief) Norm (Grimes) and the guys have given me such a great car this year. It has just been so consistent, and fast,” Jim Whiteley said in a news release.

Annie Whiteley, in her rookie season in Top Alcohol Funny Car, won five regional events en route to the regional championship, and that made the Whiteleys the first husband and wife to win an NHRA regional or divisional title together.

“This has been such a special season,” Jim Whiteley said. “To see Annie develop and win the championship has really been something.”

Annie Whiteley said she benefited from having great teachers and being able to make a lot of runs, which allowed her to learn from her mistakes. As the season progressed, her reaction times improved, and now, she said, “Things are slowing down quite a bit in the car.”

The Whiteleys said they hope to close the season with wins in Pomona, which for Annie would be her first national-event win, despite two trips to the finals this year.

“We really want to get Annie in a national-event winner’s circle, and the winter just seems to go better when you close the year with a win,” Jim Whiteley said.


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