For the fourth time in two races (or one event and one day of qualifying, technically), the NHRA Pro Modified class endured carnage to its mainstay of racers, as Shane Molinari and Steven Whitely nearly tangled during qualifying on Friday evening at the NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta, ultimately setting off two separate incidents that caused extensive damage.
Molinari, all the way from Battle Ground, Washington, may have actually escaped worse harm in the incident that happened during the second round of Pro Mod qualifying, as his twin turbocharged ’68 Firebird got loose early in the run, forcing him to pedal the car and slow. That left him out of the immediate path of second-generation racer Whiteley, whose supercharged Cadillac went careening across the centerline just after the finish stripe, directly into the real estate that would have been occupied by Molinari, at over 200 mph.
Unfortunately, while things certainly could have been worse, the situation still wasn’t good for Molinari, as he had to climb on the binders to avoid Whiteley — who scraped the opposing guardrail on his wild excursion — which likewise sent him across the race track and hard into the concrete guardrail.
According to various reports but unconfirmed at this time, Molinari received injuries to his ribs in the accident. Both he and Whiteley were sidelined for the remainder of the weekend.