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Mike Salinas, Tim Wilkerson, Bo Butner top NHRA qualifying again

Updated April 7, 2019 - 12:28 am

The second day of qualifying for the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway had a lot in common with Tiger Woods during his golfing prime.

There were no changes atop the leaderboard.

With sunny skies and warmer temperatures discouraging significant leaps in speed Saturday, Mike Salinas, Tim Wilkerson and Bo Butner were able to stand on their Friday top qualifying times in the featured Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock categories, respectively.

That was fine by Wilkerson, who earned his first green cap for setting fast qualifying time since 2017 with a 3.895-second pass at 323.50 mph.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been the No. 1 qualifier,” said the veteran driver from the Illinois heartland, who will be gunning for his 22nd career victory when the hot rods are rolled out for final eliminations beginning at noon Sunday.

“But I kind of pull that out of my hat every once in a while. It may take me a year or two sometimes, but I’m there gettin’ it done.”

Wilkerson was followed on the speed chart by Ron Capps (3.897 at 325.92), Cruz Pedregon (3.915 at 324.83) and defending series and race champion J.R. Todd (3.919 at 323.04). Each of Pedregon’s four qualifying runs were under four seconds, so he might bear watching Sunday when the temperature is expected to rise again.

Salinas’ 3.705 at 328.46 held up in Top Fuel ahead of reigning class champion Steve Torrence (3.721 at 326.87), Brittany Force (3.733 at 322.88) and Leah Pritchett (3.743 at 328.06).

Butner, who has won two of the first three Pro Stock races, went 6.648 at 206.67 to best Jeg Coughlin (6.652 at 205.69), Greg Anderson (6.664 at 206.92) and Matt Hartford (6.665 at 206.42).

“We have a good car — we’ve had a good car since I sat in it,” Butner said of his impressive 2019 start. “We’re just out here having fun. That’s probably one reason we’re having a little success — this isn’t our life, but we do have fun and enjoy it.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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