Brittany Force remained in the No. 1 spot in Top Fuel, her Friday best of 3.712 going untouched throughout the day. Her final attempt, in the final pair of the final session, resulted in tire smoke but she nonetheless ended the day with her fourth green hat of the season as low qualifier.
Not that improvements were the order of Q4, with Clay Millican pounding out a 3.723 to better his earlier 3.760 that jumped him from No. 10 to No. 4.
Austin Prock improved to a 3.771 and switched spots with fellow rookie Jordan Vandergriff, landing a respective No. 11 and 12.
Doug Kalitta, who came into the final session in the unfamiliar No. 14 spot ran a strong 3.780 but only moved up one spot. Running alongside him, Ohio veteran Pat Dakin impressed his homestate fans with a 3.782, one of his best career runs, for the no. 14 spot.
After a third session that was marred early by tire smoke and breakage -– Chris Karamesines went about two feet under power while both Cameron Ferre and Kyle Wurtzel smoked the tires and banged the blower in the first 100 feet of the course -– the top cars hit their stride with a slew of 3.7-second passes.
Scott Palmer made his best run since the Gatornationals, a 3.755, and was followed by Mike Salinas (3.772), Billy Torrence (3.774), Steve Torrence (3.787), Antron Brown (3.794), and Jordan Vandergriff 3.798.
After a trouble-plagued Friday, veteran Luigi Novelli rebounded with a 3.938 to make the field in Q3 and stayed in the show in the No. 15 spot while Dutchman Lex Joon made the field on a fiery pass, a 4.03 in Q4, that bumped Kyle Wurtzel, who, like Ferre, was unable to return for his final chance.
TOP FUEL LOW QUALIFIER BRITTANY FORCE: “My expectations are very high for tomorrow. We’ve been struggling and sometimes you go through these downward slopes and you have to come back up and we’re hoping to do that this weekend. We stayed in Bristol and tested all day Monday to try to figure this car out. We changed a bunch of things. To be able to come out here and go No. 1 is huge for us.
“Our run earlier today I hope is comparable to what we’re going to run on Sunday. It was a little cooler out there and we wanted the heat because that’s where we struggle, but I have all the faith in these Advance Auto Parts guys. I think we’re looking good.”
First-round pairings (lane choice first): Brittany Force vs. Lex Joon; Richie Crampton vs. Billy Torrence; Clay Millican vs. Doug Kalitta; Steve Torrence vs. Jordna Vandergriff; Leah Pritchett vs. Luigi Novelli; Antron Brown vs, Scott Palmer; Mike Salinas vs. Pat Dakin; Terry McMillen vs. Austin Prock