Annie Whiteley qualified No. 3 at the 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway with a 5.54 and got only quicker from there, easily winning the first round with a 5.536 and barely losing in the quarterfinals with a 5.535 at 269.24 mph – just 0.05-mph off of top speed of the meet.

It was her misfortune to make that run against off-and-on nemesis Andy Bohl, who ran .05-mph faster in the other lane, edging her 5.535/269.24 with a slightly quicker and faster 5.520/269.29. “We take turns beating each other – one for him, one for me, one for him, one for me,” Whiteley said. “I guess it was his turn. It must have been really close down there – I never saw him, and he never saw me. We got out of our cars and asked each other, ‘Who won?’ ”

By three-hundredths of a second, Bohl did and moved on to the semifinals. Whiteley’s identical 5.536 in the first round was more than enough against former East Region champion Matt Gill, who shook hard off the line trying to make up the distance between his No. 14 qualifying berth and her No. 3.

After breaking right off the line on the first qualifying attempt, Whiteley’s Mike Strasburg-tuned J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaro was never out of the 5.50s or under 260 mph thereafter. She clocked a solid 5.561 at 267.59 mph in the second session and backed it up with a 5.545/268.87 in Q3. “After that first qualifying run, the car ran great all weekend,” she said. “If we keep doing what we’re doing now the rest of the year, we’ll be fine.”