The hot rods are back on track as the season opener, the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, gets underway in California.
POMONA, Calif. -- Brandon Bernstein continued the momentum from his win in last year’s season- finale by racing to the qualifying lead in Top Fuel Thursday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries.
Bernstein drove his Protect the Harvest/MAV TV dragster to the provisional No. 1 spot with a 3.761 second pass at 325.22 mph in the Top Fuel class. If the performance holds, it will be the 15th No. 1 of his career.
“The Protect the Harvest/MAV TV car came out of the gates real good,” Bernstein said. “It felt like a really good run. It’s nice to be in that No.1 right now. There’s a lot of racing left. That win at the end of the year gave us a tremendous boost of confidence. The competition is so tight. This weekend is going to be even tougher.”
Also in Top Fuel, seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher is in the second spot with a 3.777 at 326.08 in his U.S Army dragster while Clay Millican sits with a 3.799 at 325.77 in his Auto-Plus dragster.
Veteran Funny Car driver Densham powered his Densham Motorsports Dodge Charger to the qualifying lead with a performance of 4.053 at 307.09.
Last season’s top rookie Courtney Force is proving to be a sophomore sensation by taking the second spot in Funny Car with a 4.071 at 311.49 in her Traxxas Ford Mustang. Johnny Gray is third in his Pitch Energy Dodge Charger with a 4.087 at 308.78.
In Pro Stock, Gaines secured the qualifying lead with a 6.538 pass at 211.49 mph in his Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger.
“We had a really good end of last year and made a lot of progress,” Gaines said. “We’ve got a hot car and a fantastic engine program. We are looking forward to this year. For a single-car team to do what we’re doing I think it is phenomenal. It’s extremely gratifying when you’re doing it all yourself.”
Jason Line was second in Pro Stock with a 6.541 at 212.43 in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro followed by Mike Edwards, who posted a 6.545 at 212.26 in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Pontiac GXP.