Minutes after losing their Friday qualifying lead to world champ Robert Hight, Matt Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables regained the top spot on the final pass of Funny Car qualifying to enter Sunday as the No. 1 qualifiers.
Hagan’s Friday Q1 pass of 3.867 had withstood all challengers until Hight pulled the Auto Club Chevy to the line in the second to last qualifying pair and rocketed to a 3.862. That lead lasted until the two-time world champ ripped away from the starting line in his blue Mopar/Pennzoil Dodge and clocked a 3.841 alongside teammate Jack Beckman, whose Infinite Hero Dodge knocked Hight down another spot with a 3.856.
Tommy Johnson Jr. and the new-look MD Anderson Cancer Center Dodge made three-second passes on three of four runs and hit a best-of-qualifying 3.881in Q4 for the No. 3 spot.
After two Friday misses, John Force chalked up a 3.93 in Q3 then put down a solid 3.889 in the final session to qualify No. 5 with new crew chiefs Danny Hood and Ronny Thompson.
Twelve cars qualified in the three-second zone with Bob Bode’s 3.984 being the slowest of the sub-fours. Also qualifying in the three-second zone were Paul Lee (3.910), Ron Capps (3.911), J.R. Todd (3.914), Tim Wilkerson (3.918), Bob Tasca III (3.940), and Alexis DeJoria (3.950).
Alex Miladinovich qualified for the field in his nitro Funny Car debut at the former Nostalgia Funny Car pilot got a passing grade for his Hot For Teacher Toyota with a 4.554 pass that left him in the No. 16 spot with a first-round date with Hagan Sunday morning.