TAFC – DENVER
Perennial Top Alcohol Funny Car national title contender Annie Whiteley, who won Denver in 2018 and was runner-up in 2014, 2015, and last year, suffered a rare middle-round loss at her home track, one-of-a-kind Bandimere Speedway in the Rocky Mountain foothills just west of Denver. The many-time national event champion and current national record holder qualified high, as usual, but fell a round short of another final-round appearance.
Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot team, based just four hours away from Bandimere in Grand Junction, Colo., began eliminations from the fast half of the field, as always, No. 1 for the third time in four races this year with an aggregate best of 5.734 at 258.91 mph. Pole qualifier for the fourth time on the mountain, she actually got the top spot by less than a thousandth of a second, winning the best-speed tiebreaker over eventual winner Doug Gordon, who also ran a 5.734, by more than 5 mph in the traps, 258.91 mph to 253.90.
Crew chief Mike Strasburg from the neighboring state of Utah, cooked up a high-altitude combination in the first round of eliminations perfect for the unique conditions all mile-high racers face. Whiteley reeled off another winning run, a 5.73/257, but a similar 5.74/256 in the semifinals left her just short. Automatic transmission/torque converter racer Bill Bernard got off the starting line a little quicker for a 5.75/248 win. From here, Jim and Annie Whiteley’s YNot team heads into an uncertain future – who knows when COVID-19 restrictions will permit another race? – with a win and three semifinals finishes on its 2020 score card.