TAFC – GAINESVILLE
All Annie Whiteley did after winning the 2020 season-opener in Belle Rose, La., was make the fastest Top Alcohol Funny Car run of all time – 276.18 mph – days later at the Southeast Regional in Gainesville, Fla. “I didn’t realize it ran that fast,” said Whiteley of what basically is a brand-new car. “It’s kind of picky, actually, almost like it’s too stiff. It doesn’t want to respond, but it sure did that time.”
After qualifying No. 1 by more than half a tenth with the only run in the 5.30s all weekend, a 5.39 at 274.66 mph (top speed to that point by nearly 5 mph), the car responded to crew chief Mike Strasburg’s call with the first official run over 276 mph in NHRA history. More than half the cars were in the 5.40s, but the bump was just a 5.89 by inexperienced Josh Haskett, who wasn’t around when eliminations got under way. Instead, Whiteley, who has mastered the art of drawing inordinately tough first-round opponents despite always qualifying near the top, got alternate Ulf Leanders, one of the few to ever run in the 5.30s, in the opening round.
Whiteley rolled to the line aggressively after the burnout and reset the NHRA national record while the dangerous Leanders fell back with a troubled 6.85. For the YNot team, already owners of seven of the 10 fastest Top Alcohol Funny Car speeds ever, it all came to an end in the semifinals when their temperamental new machine went up in smoke instantly opposite perennial bridesmaid Doug Gordon, who went on to a long-overdue final-round win over Bellemeur. Whiteley left with the pole, low e.t. by a mile, and fastest speed of all time.