Whiteley caps career-best year with win by ProQuest

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After losing a hard-fought battle for the championship to Bill Reichert, who clinched his third consecutive title three weeks earlier at the Division 2 event in Reynolds, Ga., Whiteley capped his career-best year by beating Reichert in the final round at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. A former Super Stock and Comp racer who moved up to Top Alcohol Dragster in 1992, Reichert has won 17 national event titles and has 13 top 10 finishes.

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									                             TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER — 44th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 6-9, Pomona

                             Whiteley caps career-best year with win




by Steve Waldron                                              Jim Whiteley (right) capped his career-best year by beating three-time national
                                                              champ Bill Reichert in a battle of 2008’s top two drivers. (Above) In the final, Whiteley

S    hort of winning the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing
     Series national championship, Jim Whiteley
couldn’t have scripted a better finish to his 2008
                                                              made his best run of the weekend, a 5.31, and Reichert his worst, a 5.63.

                                                                 “Marty had a legitimate shot to overtake us for                 three of five this
season. After losing a hard-fought battle for the             second place,” said Whiteley. “He needed to win the                year (Chicago,
championship to Bill Reichert, who clinched his third         race, and he was running good enough to do it.”                    Indianapolis, and
consecutive title three weeks earlier at the Division 2          Thacker outran Whiteley, 5.33 to 5.35, but the                  Charlotte).
event in Reynolds, Ga., Whiteley capped his career-best       win went to Whiteley by virtue of Thacker’s -.012
year by beating Reichert in the final round at the            red-light. Whiteley then ran back-to-back 5.32s in                 Fast facts:
Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals.           victories over Mark Niver and Cody Perkins, both of                Despite losing
    “We were just glad to be there,” said Whiteley, who       whom smoked the tires, to reach the final.                         his primary
failed to qualify at the Division 7 finale in Las Vegas a        Unfortunately for Whiteley, his victory came too                sponsor before
week prior and struggled in qualifying. “We struggled         late to count toward his championship total. He                    the season
in Vegas and started off here the same way. We were           finished with 712 points, 80 behind Reichert.                      started, Thacker
playing with some things that just weren’t working, so           “We had our chances,” said Whiteley, who won                    finished a career-
went back to our old stuff, and the car came right            seven races this season, including national events in              best third on the
around. Still, we were a little behind the eight ball. The    Sonoma and Dallas. “We beat ourselves at several                   strength of his
car should have run better than it did, but we’re happy       races, where we should have done better. We wish                   five wins,
with the results. I truly didn’t think we had a chance        we could do some of them over, but we learned a lot.               including four
with the way Reichert was running. He ran some                We had a really good year, but it’s never good                     straight in the middle of season that thrust him into
pretty stout numbers in the heat.”                            enough. We should have been better. We finished 80                 title contention. His scored his only national event
    After qualifying his potent A/Fuel Dragster No. 1         points between, but it should have been closer.                    win and the third of his career in Reading and had
with 5.257, Reichert ran 5.263, 5.249, and 5.165 en route        “I have a great team — my wife, Annie; Dirk                     semifinal finishes in Norwalk and Indianapolis. …
to the final. His 5.165 at 282.66 mph in the semifinals       Olsen; Alan Russell; John Layfield; Don Pulliam; Tim               Former Super Comp racers Brittany and Courtney
was the quickest and fastest run of the year and the          Nunes; and Mike and Shirlene Kramer — and they                     Force wrapped up their first seasons behind the
seventh quickest (tie) and second fastest run ever.           make my job a lot easier,” added Whiteley, who                     wheel of Jerry Darien’s A/Fuel Dragster. The
    “He had nearly two-tenths on us from his best to our      receives product support from Goodyear, NGK, and                   youngest daughters of 14-time Funny Car world
best [going into the final], and there was virtually no way   Permatex. “We should have our new car in about a                   champion John Force, 22-year-old Brittany and 20-
we were going to beat him if he put up a number,” said        month, and we’re going to go out and test hard and                 year-old Courtney both lost in round one after
Whiteley. “If something happened to his car — and             get ready for [the 2009 season opener in] Pomona.”                 qualifying 11th and 3rd, respectively. Both finished
there’s always a chance when you’re running that hard —                                                                          the season with one round-win apiece; Brittany in
we wanted to give ourselves a chance to win, so we tried      The key race: “Probably the biggest round was                      Seattle and Courtney in Dallas. … 
								
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