COMMERCE, GA – May 12, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – In one wild weekend Jim Whiteley racked up as many round wins as he previously had in a 15-race NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series career.
Whiteley picked up his first class victory at the most recent race in Houston and while he feels there are plenty of areas to improve, the former two-time Top Alcohol Dragster champion can’t argue with the direction his team is headed.
Whiteley jumped to fourth in the points standings and will take plenty of momentum into this weekend’s 36th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. Pro Line Racing (PLR) and FuelTech are co-presenting sponsors for the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the event, which is the third of 10 races in the class. All 10 events in 2016 will air on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and FOX Sports 2 (FS2).
“It was huge,” Whiteley said of his victory. “We’ve won a lot of races in the alcohol dragster and this deal is a whole different ballgame. You’ve got some real fast cars and you have to be spot on. I’m just real fortunate to get this win. Anytime you get a win, it will bring momentum. We’re excited and pretty optimistic about things coming up.”
Whiteley had just four round wins in a Pro Mod career that had spanned the last two seasons and he struggled at the opener in Gainesville, Fla., failing to qualify for eliminations in a loaded field. Those struggles appeared to continue to Houston where he qualified No. 18.
But he made the field as a second alternate and big things started to happen. Whiteley turned in three straight consistent runs to advance to the final round against two-time NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world champion Rickie Smith.
In the final round, Smith crossed the center line and crashed into the retaining wall, handing the victory to Whiteley.
“The car went down the track every time except for the final and that’s been something we’ve been struggling with,” Whiteley said. “It wasn’t fast, but it was consistent and I think that was the big thing. We got some information and we’re starting to get a feel for it.”
It’s been an arduous process for Whiteley but he is excited about the potential of his Chevrolet Chevelle. New tuner Norm Grimes has made a number of changes and Whiteley is learning on the fly in a class loaded with talented standouts.
That includes Smith, who won the Atlanta event in 2014, as well as the likes of Bob Rahaim, Mike Janis, Bill Glidden, Danny Rowe, Mike Castellana, defending event champion Kenny Lang and two-time world champion Troy Coughlin.
Whiteley’s victory made him the 11th different winner in the last 12 races, another nod to the parity and competition in the class.
“The adrenaline is always pumping (in this class),” Whiteley said. “Just making it to race day is tough to do. There are a lot of good cars and half the field goes home (after qualifying). I think I’m settling down in the car. To make a good, solid pass, you need to do everything right.
“We’re behind the game with the car and changing a lot of things up. Norm Grimes has come over and is helping tune the car and this is completely different from what we’re used to, but we’re gaining every time we go out there. We’re not a lead runner yet, but we’re working on it.”
That next step could come in Atlanta, but Whiteley wants to see a better performance from his car off the starting line. He isn’t expecting to contend for a No. 1 qualifying spot in the immediate future, but he is hoping the consistency from Houston carries over.
“We’ve got a consistent car,” Whiteley said. “We’ve changed some things up for this weekend and we’re kind of shooting in the dark a little bit, but the goal is to get a little better. It is going down the track and we’ll see if we can pick it up a little bit and see if we can make it a little more competitive.”
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer race cars, the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast. The class is highlighted by historic muscle cars, like ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds and ’69 Camaros, as well as a variety of late model American muscle cars. With more than 3,000 horsepower, the suspended door Pro Mod cars travel the quarter-mile in less than six seconds at speeds exceeding 250 mph.
NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, May 13 with qualifying sessions at 3:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m., continuing with the final qualifying session on Saturday, May 14 at 12:45 p.m. Round one of eliminations is later on Saturday at 3:15 p.m.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES FACT SHEET:
SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
WHAT: 36th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, the second of 10 events in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series. The race will also showcase the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
WHERE: Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga. I-85 to Exit 149 (Hwy 441). After exiting the freeway, go north on Highway 441 to Steven Tanger Blvd. Take left on Tanger and then go right on Ridgeway Road.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 1,100 feet above sea level; Track direction is southeast to northwest.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, May 13-15, 2016
FRIDAY, May 13
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3:15 and 5:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 14
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 12:45 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 3:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, May 15 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES eliminations at 12:45 p.m.
Thursday, June 2, FS2 will televise 30 minutes of coverage at 8 p.m. (ET).
PAST EVENT WINNERS: Kenny Lang, 2015; Rickie Smith, 2014; Ed Hoover, 2011; Michael Gullquist, 2010
5.778 seconds by Rickie Smith, May ’14; 253.14 mph by Roger Burgess, May ’11.
5.751 sec. by Jonathan Gray, March ’16, Gainesville, Fla.; 258.71 mph by Melanie Troxel, June ’11, Englishtown, N.J.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets.
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA Point standings (top 10) following the second of 10 events in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
1. Rickie Smith, 213; 2. Bob Rahaim, 128; 3. Danny Rowe, 123; 4. (tie) Troy Coughlin, 110; Jonathan Gray, 110; 6. Sidnei Frigo, 93; 7. Mike Castellana, 86; 8. Michael Biehle, 85; 9. Chip King, 82; 10. Steve Matusek, 79.