Whiteleys reach another NHRA final
Annie Whiteley is doing better than she ever expected in her rookie season.
With her breakout year in the NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car class, the Whiteley family has decided to go for some NHRA drag racing history.
Jim and Annie Whiteley hope to become the first husband and wife to win points championships in the same year.
They got closer to it last weekend, but it will come down to the final race of the season.
Each reached the finals in the NAPA Auto Parts Challenge at Woodburn Dragstrip last weekend in Woodburn, Ore.
Jim’s perfect record of winning regional events came to an end, though, against Chris Demke of Sunland, Calif., in the top alcohol dragster final.
Demke ran a 5.271 elapsed time at 268.57 mph, beating Whiteley’s time of 5.418 at 217.49 mph.
Jim Whiteley still holds the lead in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series national championship season points standings with 765 points. Demke is second with 658.
Demke is first in the Lucas Oil West Region points race. Whiteley is 11 points behind him for second.
Jim Whiteley qualified first for the elimination round and had a first-round bye. He defeated Joey Severance on his home track in the semifinals with a 5.299 estimated time at 271.98 mph. Severance ran a 9.295 at 113.46.
Annie Whiteley remained first in the West Region points race with a victory at Woodburn. The rookie YNOT Racing driver is fourth in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series national championship points standings.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I am now if it was not for the great team I have behind me,” she said in a news release. “My Crew Chief Roger Bateman and the crew have given me a great car to drive and been great teachers. They have been patient with me. We have been fortunate to make a lot of runs this year between racing and testing, and every pass I get more comfortable in the car. This year was just to get me seat time and to learn. Once we won a few races, we realized we had a chance at the regional championships, so we’re going to give it our best shot.”
She ran a 5.603 elapsed time at 257.73 mph to defeat Brian Hough of Junction City, Ore., in the final. Hough ran a 5.636 at 255.75.
Whiteley qualified second for the elimination round in her 2009 Mustang. She defeated Sean Bellemeur with a 5.542 at 260.41. She defeated Jirka Kaplan in the semifinals with a 5.610 at 258.69.
If Jim and Annie Whiteley each win the Western Region title, it will be the first time in NHRA history that a husband and wife won a championship in the same year. They already have won at the same event twice this year.