POMONA, Calif. - It wasn't the storybook ending Brandon Bernstein wrote to end the 2012 season, but Bernstein and the ProtectTheHarvest.com/MAVTV Top Fuel dragster still got the season started on solid footing after going to the second round at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals on Sunday.
Bernstein, who won the season finale at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona last year, beat Brittany Force in the first round before falling to Shawn Langdon in the second, but the ProtectTheHarvest.com car ran in the 3.70-second range each time.
"The Protect The Harvest team is just really solid," Bernstein said. "We came back right where we left off here in Pomona. It's going to be a really good season, all our guys are jelling and it's just going to be awesome."
In the second round, Langdon got off the line first, but Bernstein battled all the way down the track. Langdon crossed the line first by a nose with a pass of 3.738 seconds at 327.43 mph to Bernstein's 3.775 at 323.89 mph.
"It's unfortunate," Bernstein said. "You know they were going to run good. When he puts a 3.73 on you, there's not much of anything we could have done with a run like that."
Against Force to open the day, Bernstein cut a .035-second reaction time at the starting line and never looked back, cruising to a 3.785-second pass at 324.44 mph. Force crossed the line in 3.822 seconds at 323.43 mph.
"You spend all winter not racing, so you have a heightened feeling in the first round of eliminations at the Winternationals," he said. "You are always amped up. Brittany had a good run and it was a good race. She's going to get better with experience."
Bernstein and the ProtectTheHarvest.com/MAVTV team get a chance to get right back out there as they travel to Phoenix's Firebird International Raceway and the Feb. 22-24 NHRA Arizona Nationals.
"We've had a full year together with me as the driver," Bernstein said. "We're very comfortable together and are ready for great things this season."
Lucas Oil Racing