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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.
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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