In his first official appearance at the Texas Motorplex, which immediately rocketed to the top of his all-time personal least-favorite-tracks list, Steven Whiteley, who qualified No. 1 in Bristol and No. 2 with a brand-new car in Topeka, landed in the No. 4 spot with an excellent 5.80-flat at more than 251 mph. Not bad – especially for a field that, like all J&A Service Pro Mod Series fields, attracted nearly 30 cars.

Didn’t matter. “I still hate it this place,” said Whiteley, who’s never voiced his opinion about any other track on the NHRA tour. “I hate dragging our stuff through the pits here.” Texas has always been kind to the father-and-son YNot Racing team of Jim and Steven Whiteley, but most of that good fortune has taken place to the southeast of Dallas at Houston Raceway Park, where Jim has gone the distance two of the past three years. Here Jim DNQed, missing the 5.852 bump by a mere 18-thousandths of a second with a 5.870, but Steven, despite his distaste for the entire facility, managed to go rounds.

The second-generation driver left unheralded Jader Krolow sitting on the starting line Sunday morning in the first round, winning a 5.79-5.89 race that wasn’t nearly as close as the E.T.s would indicate. Whiteley got off the line ahead of his inexperienced and obviously distracted opponent by the unimaginable margin of three-tenths of a second, and was reaching for second gear about the time Krolow left.

The wheels came off in the second round when Whiteley was eliminated by teammate Jeremy Ray. He again took a huge holeshot lead of more than a tenth of a second but had to lift when tire shake set in and was driven around by the eventual winner’s consistent 5.79. “It wasn’t a bad weekend,” Whiteley said. “But I don’t ever want to run here again. We won’t be back next year.”