Brittany Force made a monster run – literally – on the final pass of Top Fuel qualifying, powering her David Grubnic-tuned Monster Energy dragster to a stout 3.657 to grab the No. 1 qualifying position.
Earlier in the day, both Force and Leah Pruett had bettered Shawn Langdon’s Friday best of 3.699 in Saturday’s first session with respective runs of 3.686 and 3.687. Pruett’s run was especially impressive because her Mopar mount was shut off on the line after her qualifying mate, Rob Passey, had problems on his burnout and could not stop the car. After Passey’s mount was cleared from the track several minutes later, crew chief Todd Okuhara calmly refired the car and, without the benefit of addition tire or engine warming, they made their best run of qualifying.
Reigning rookie of the year Austin Prock and crew chiefs Mike Green and Joe Barlam struggled through the first three qualifying sessions with a best of a 4.36, then found their footing in Q4 and blasted the Montana Brand dragster to a 3.680 to momentarily move teammate Force out of the No. 1 spot in the field before she fired back at the end of the session.
Friday leader Langdon endured a frustrating day in the DHL dragster, never making it of the starting line after staging due to electrical issues with the car. He slipped from the No 1 spot Friday to No. 4 after Saturday.
Because Passey was never able to stage his car and was not able to come back for Q4 after sitting out Friday, he’s not going to be part of the field. With three other previously entered cars not making it to Pomona, Sunday will have a 13-car field. Force will get a bye in round two and the winner of the first-round race between the No. 2 qualifier (Prock) and No. 13 (Cameron Ferre) will get a bye in round two.