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She got that first regional win in only her fourth start behind the wheel of the YNot Racing Top Alcohol Funny Car during the March 23-25 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Western Regional at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Along the way she upset veteran Jay Payne and the heavily favored Tony Bartone.
Whiteley shook the tires and shut off during the first qualifying session, but rebounded with four straight runs within .011 of a second. Whiteley piloted the Roger Bateman tuned 2011 Mustang to a 5.689 second elapsed time at 253.61 mph to qualify third in the field. In round one, she took out defending Division 6 Champion Brian Hough with a 5.681 at 254.57 mph, and then took out former Division 2 Champion Jay Payne in the semifinals with a 5.688 at 253.99 mph to reach her first final.
In the final, Whiteley maintained her near bracket-like consistency to defeat the No. 1 qualifier and defending Division 4 Champion Tony Bartone. Bartone encountered heavy tire shake and was forced to pedal, while Whiteley streaked to victory with a 5.678 at 254.76 mph over Bartone’s 5.788 at 257.24 mph.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Whiteley. “Our goal this weekend truly was to just get our first round win. After we beat Payne in the semis, that was just a bonus. When we beat Bartone in the final, it was just unbelievable.
“I was a little nervous after we shook the tires and I shut off in the first qualifier,” Whiteley continued. “Our rule has always been if it shakes the tires or does something stupid is to just shut it off so we can bring it back and fix whatever the problem is. After I shut it off, I was thinking, ‘that was dumb, you only have one more shot to qualify.’ I finally made myself quit thinking about the situation and just focused on getting the car down the track.”