Although Brittany Force and crew chief David Grubnic are known for their nighttime qualifying heroics, they showed in the heat of the day Saturday that they’re tough under fire, too, recording the best run of the day, 3.691 to back up their Friday field-leading 3.651.
The No. 1 spot is Force’s eighth this season and the 18th of her career and momentum heading into what she hopes will be a repeat of her last visit to Texas, when she won in Houston earlier this year.
"Getting the No. 1 spot was important because we want every single point we can grab t chase down that No. 1 spot," she said. "But we really need to perform well on raceday, We haven't won since early in the season in Houston. We need to get our car down the track every run [Sunday] and win this thing. Q3 was important; we only made it halfway down and that's where we've struggled. We can belt it out when it's cool weather but we struggle in hot weather but I feel after today that we will have it figured out for tomorrow."
Mike Salinas looked good in the heat, too, clocking a 3.713 after a Friday 3.68 and rookie of the year frontrunner Austin Prock made a big step up in Q4 with a 3.714 that jumped him into the top half of the field as one of the few nitro drivers to improve on a Friday-night performance.
Leah Pritchett stayed No. 2 behind Force with Salinas third and points leader Steve Torrence, the defending event champ, in fourth, capping a successful qualifying outing with runs of 3.753 and 3.723 on his final two passes.
Torrence’s father Billy, who was low of Q3 with a 3.748, ended up one spot behind his son with his Friday 3.712 with Prock seventh and Antron Brown rounding out the top half of the field with a 3.717.
Lee Callaway successfully qualified in his Top Fuel debut as the former Alcohol Dragster raced took his borrowed ride (Scott Palmer’s Magic Dry entry) to an opening 3.80 that held for the No. 14 spot as he gained experience with two not-so-full runs Saturday.
Cameron Ferre, who sat out both of Friday's sessions, fired Terry Haddock's dragster into the field in Q3 with a 3.954 that bumped out Cory McClenathan. Cory Mac, who is in the first of the three final races of his Top Fuel career before retiring at year’s end, suffered an engine explosion in the same session and opted to sit out the final session, locking Ferre into the field.