PRO MOD – BRISTOL
Jim Whiteley’s had it with his ’69 Chevelle. “This thing is officially parked,” he said at Thunder Valley Dragway in the rolling hills of Bristol, Tenn., after another disappointing DNQ. “Bigfoot can drive over this thing and crush it, as far as I’m concerned – that actually would be worth more to me than whatever I could sell it for. People come up at every race and say how much they love it, but it just won’t run.”
Whiteley wheeled the Yenko Blue Chevelle, one of the most popular cars – if not the most – on the entire NHRA Pro Mod tour, to 5-second times in three of four qualifying sessions, but even “Stevie Fast” Jackson, who’s led the standings all season and who recently joined the J&A Service/YNot team to lend his tuning expertise, hasn’t been able to get much out of it. Whiteley ran a 5.98 Friday afternoon for the early qualifying lead and picked up to a 5.92 at just 232 mph that evening to enter Saturday qualifying 17th on the grid, one spot out of the field. A tire-shaking, shutoff 8.90 in Q3 and a 5.97 late Saturday afternoon in last-shot qualifying rendered him a non-qualifier for the sixth time in six 2019 starts.
“We put more [transmission] ratio in for that last one,” Whiteley said. “Didn’t matter. It was already way leaner than you’d ever think you could get away with. Same thing – didn’t matter. I don’t know what it is. It’ll stay with anybody early, but from half-track on it doesn’t go anywhere. This car has a mind of its own. People ask if I’m discouraged, but I’m really not. I’m done with this thing – it’s time – but I’m excited about where Stevie has this program going. He just does not quit. He’s already found things, he has good things coming, and the new car [a Tommy Mauney-built ’63 Corvette the team will take delivery of this week] is going to haul ass.”
“I’ve never failed at anything like I have with this car,” said Jackson, as transparent and no-nonsense as ever. ” I’ve taken parts straight off my car and put them on this one and it still won’t run. I’ve had it so lean that if it was my car it would have blown up at 400 feet and the plugs still have all the cad on them. You know what I want to do? Take this thing up on that giant hill at the other end of the track and push it off the cliff. They can even leave me in it if they want. I’ll just say this: When we get the new car, it’s going to run. Jim’s going to be on the pole, I guarantee you.”