TAFC – INDY
Three-time Indy runner-up Annie Whiteley padded her already gaudy career stats at the U.S. Nationals with yet another late-round finish at the biggest race of the year. Whiteley, who reached the final in 2013, 2015, and just missed winning one of them, overcame a rough start in qualifying this year to make the semifinals for the sixth time in seven career Indy starts.
“The first one wasn’t that bad – I mean, who really thinks they’re going to beat [Frank] Manzo, anyway?” Whiteley asked. “The next one I barely lost to Andy Bohl, 5.62 to 5.63, and the last one, against [Jonnie] Lindberg, he slowed down like two tenths from what we’d both been running but I smoked the tires right off the line.”
This year, Whiteley’s YNot/J&A Camaro broke and stopped on the track on her first attempt, coasted to a 7.69 at just 127 mph in Q2, then ran back-to-back 5.57s in Saturday’s third and fourth qualifying sessions to settle into the No. 3 spot on the final grid. She trounced returning veteran Bob McCosh in the opening round of eliminations, 5.59 to 5.72, and got a measure of revenge on Bohl for the 2015 final in a classic second-round matchup, 5.601 to his right-there 5.607, before bowing out in the semifinals against eventual runner-up Chris Marshall, 5.49 to 5.61.
“I don’t know what it is about this race,” said Whiteley, who ran 5.44, 5.43, and 5.42 there last year and has a career win-loss mark of 15-7 (.682) at Indy. “I think some people might make too big of a deal out of it. I always try to treat it like it’s any other race.”