Bristol: Notes of Interest, schedule

NOTES OF INTEREST: Young Bernstein Off to a Fast Start - Last season Kenny Bernstein ended a driving career that saw him etch his name into the NHRA record books numerous times. The first driver to eclipse the 300-mph barrier and the only driver...

NOTES OF INTEREST:

Young Bernstein Off to a Fast Start - Last season Kenny Bernstein ended a driving career that saw him etch his name into the NHRA record books numerous times. The first driver to eclipse the 300-mph barrier and the only driver to ever win championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, Bernstein handed the keys to the famed Budweiser dragster to his son Brandon for the 2003 season and beyond. The younger Bernstein wasted no time in getting acclimated with the winning ways of the Budweiser team, visiting the winner's circle in his second and third professional starts (Phoenix and Gainesville, Fla.) and was the runner-up in the Budweiser Shootout at Pomona, Calif. After earning the Division 7 Top Alcohol Dragster crown in 2001, the younger Bernstein spent the entire 2002 season as a crewmember on his father's team, learning the intricacies of a nitromethane-powered dragster. It took him only two professional starts before scoring his first Top Fuel win, and with crew chief Tim Richards making all the tuning decisions, the younger Bernstein is well positioned to challenge the rest of the field for Top Fuel supremacy. Brandon is currently second in the POWERade standings, 40 points behind rival Larry Dixon.

Perennial Funny Car Champ Force Continues to Struggle - What's going on with 12-time Funny Car champion John Force? The NHRA icon has three first round losse4s in the first five events of the season and is off to his worst start since 1980 by not advancing past the second round yet. With a three-car operation, Force's Ford Mustang is the one that is struggling. His two other drivers, Tony Pedregon and Gary Densham, currently occupy first and second place in the standings respectively and have combined for four wins in five races. Force just moved back into the top 10 in the standings (ninth) and is 257 points behind Pedregon. Force has never won a national event at Bristol, but this would be the ideal time for the champ to make his move.

Student Leads Teacher - Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson is the former crew chief for six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson. After competing in the Pro Stock category on a limited basis from 1998-2001 (racing 21 out of 22 races in 1999), Anderson left Johnson's team and committed himself to the entire NHRA POWERade Drag racing Series beginning in 2002. After a career-best finish in the POWERade standings (No. 3), final round appearances (six), No. 1 qualifying positions (two), and won-loss record in eliminations (32-19), Anderson has established himself as a top contender for the 2003 Pro Stock crown. W. Johnson won the 2003 season-opener at Pomona, Calif., while Anderson lost in the semifinals. With two victories this season, Anderson is second in the standings, 59 points ahead of his former employer.

Can Angelle Win a Fourth Title? - Defending POWERade Pro Stock Bike champion Angelle Savoie had an interesting offseason following her third straight NHRA title. She and longtime crew chief George Bryce had a mutual parting with Savoie announcing she would join fellow three-time champ Matt Hines on the sideline for the 2003 season. Surprisingly, the day after announcing her intentions to not compete this year, Savoie joined forces with friend and family member (through marriage) Antron Brown to form a two-bike team for this year's run at the title. Savoie quickly put to rest her skeptics at the season-opener for the two-wheelers, blasting her way to the No. 1 qualifying position, then earning the win on her new bike at the very first event with her new team. Savoie already is the winningest female in NHRA history (30 career wins) and is tied with the legendary Shirley Muldowney with the most NHRA championships earned by a female competitor. She wants her fourth crown, and is off to a good start.

Kalitta Pursues Qualifying Record - Doug Kalitta has been the No. 1 qualifier at the first five races of the season in his Mac Tools dragster. That ties an NHRA record for consecutive Top Fuel No. 1 qualifying positions to start off a season (Gary Beck, 1983). Five in a row also ties an NHRA Top Fuel record for consecutive No. 1 qualifying positions in a season done by Beck (twice in 1983) and by Darrell Gwynn (1986). Beck and Blaine Johnson hold the NHRA record for most No. 1 qualifying spots in a season with 10. Kalitta has been on an impressive streak, not only earning the top spot in qualifying, but doing it in impressive fashion. During his qualifying streak, Kalitta has recorded two of the top five quickest passes ever recorded in NHRA history, in addition to running three of the top six speeds ever, including the fastest run in NHRA history (333.91 mph)

Regarding Weather -- In drag racing weather plays a vital role as crew chiefs examine data and tune their race cars for maximum performance. Most teams have sophisticated weather stations on board their team transporters so they can access up-to-the-minute weather information as well as forecasts.

Fan Accessibility - No other major motorsport offers the kind of fan accessibility like the NHRA. Every ticket, general admission or reserved, is a pass to the pit areas of all of our professional and sportsman competitors. Fans get the opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite drivers and teams. They get to interact with the various competitors, talk shop, or just hang out and watch the teams work. Fans have access to the pits as teams fire up their engines in preparation of their next pass down the track. With the continued growth of the NHRA, nothing helps separate the drag racing's premier sanctioning body, like fan accessibility.

Safety Safari-- These men and women are a team of professionals dedicated to making the sport safe for the competitors and keeping the action on the track moving for the fans. Spend the day or a few hours with this crew and watch as they take care of preparing the race track for competition, responding to crashes and cleaning up oil and debris on the racing surface.

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying is scheduled for 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. on April 25 and will continue at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. on April 26. Final eliminations begin at noon on April 27.

TICKETS: Tickets are available for the third annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals. Call Bristol Dragway at (423) 764-1161, or visit bristoldragway.com for ticket information.

TELEVISION: ESPN2:

Qualifying
Saturday, April 26
10 - 11 p.m. (ET)

NHRA 2Day
Sunday, April 27
9:30 - 10 a.m. (ET)

Eliminations - Early Round
Sunday, April 27
6 - 7 p.m. (ET)

Eliminations - Late Round
Sunday, April 27
12:30 a.m. - 2:30 a.m. (ET)

Eliminations - Repeat
Monday, April 28
8 - 10 p.m. (ET)

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham , George Bryce , Darrell Gwynn