On the all-concrete quarter-mile at the Texas Motorplex, Annie Whiteley pounded out the quickest run of her four-year career to qualify high in the fastest field in Top Alcohol Funny Car history. A 5.45 at nearly 267 mph positioned her fifth in the Fall Nationals lineup, but an up-in-smoke 10.95 in the first round of eliminations knocked her out of the race. “I don’t know what it is, but Scott McVey is my kryptonite,” Whiteley said of the disappointing early exit. “That guy’s always had my number.”

Up till then, the incoming national points leader was headed for yet another late-round finish, maybe even an eighth final and fifth victory of 2015. Whiteley guided her YNot Racing/J&A Service Camaro to an off-the trailer 5.58/263 Friday that had her fourth on the provisional grid, then stepped way up to a 5.52/264 later that afternoon for No. 6. When conditions improved Saturday morning, she made an even bigger gain to a career-best 5.453/266.90, one of three 5.453s in that round.

When eliminations kicked off Saturday afternoon, Whiteley blasted off the line with one of the best 60-foot times any Alcohol Funny Car driver ever had, .920, but with the front end in the air and the car headed straight for the wall, she had no choice but to lift. “I left too high that time – that’s why the 60-foot time was so good – but there’s no way the car’s going to make it with that kind of wheel speed that early,” she said.

With three races left, including two at her best track on the tour, the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Whiteley remains first in the national standings, where she’s been since July 19. Swede Jonnie Lindberg, who closed the gap slightly with a semifinal appearance at this race, is now 10 points back.