Annie Whiteley’s YNot/J&A Service Camaro dominated Carolina Nationals Top Alcohol Funny Car qualifying with not just low e.t. but low e.t. of all three qualifying sessions – 5.46, 5.46, and 5.44, all at 271 mph, including top speed of the meet to that point, 271.84. Her slowest speed was faster than anyone else’s fastest. “There were a couple of times we thought we could run quicker,” she said, “but when [crew chief] Mike [Strasburg] really looked at the track and saw all the bald spots, he backed it back down.”

The 5.44 for No. 1 came as a direct result of Strasburg’s last-minute fine-tuning expertise. “He started adjusting the barrel valve right there in the lanes,” Whiteley said. “I was all strapped in and ready to go, and when I saw him walk back, dip under the body, and go right for the injector, I thought, ‘Whatever you think is fine with me.’ ” It worked to perfection and cemented a first-round win over overmatched John Headley, the No. 16 qualifier, who, whether inadvertently or on purpose, rolled right in and turned on both bulbs. “That was weird,” she said. “I saw him do it and thought, ‘OK then … from now on whenever I race you I’ll just be ready before I pre-stage.’ ”

It didn’t matter. Whiteley maintained concentration and advanced easily, moving first and leaving Headley in the dust in a 5.51/268 to 7.27/170 blowout. She bowed out in the following round, an imminently winnable race opposite Dan Pomponio, who’s always had good luck in Charlotte. Chassis-shredding tire shake brought the YNot team’s weekend to a premature end, as Whiteley watched helplessly as Pomponio drove away to a winning 5.54. “It shook so hard I couldn’t see anything anymore,” she said. “Right as I went to pedal it, that tube that goes from the firewall to the left side window vibrated loose and started bouncing around inside the car with me, and at one point it hit me. I probably couldn’t have caught him anyway, but when that thing hit me I said, ‘OK, I’m done.’ “