Bristol: Saturday qualifying summary

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Funny Car journeyman Gary Densham earned his first career No. 1 qualifying effort Saturday at the inaugural Mac Tools NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Kenny Bernstein and Bruce Allen also claimed top qualifying ...

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Funny Car journeyman Gary Densham earned his first career No. 1 qualifying effort Saturday at the inaugural Mac Tools NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Kenny Bernstein and Bruce Allen also claimed top qualifying honors in their respective pro categories at the $1.9 million race, the sixth of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Densham, a 31-year independent campaigner who recently joined John Force's Funny Car team, set a Bristol Dragway track record, covering the quarter-mile in 4.870 seconds at 303.71 mph in his Castrol GTX/Auto Club Ford Mustang to lead the 16-car field. Densham posted one of the quickest runs of Saturday's final session, under conditions that will most resemble those on race day. "Now they know we just didn't get lucky last night," said Densham, who made his debut with Force Racing in March in Gainesville, Fla. "We know we can go out there and run a number during the heat of the day. That gives us some confidence." The former high school shop teacher from Bellflower, Calif. who has competed in 231 NHRA national events since 1970, will try for his first career win when he pairs against Al Hofmann in Sunday's first round of eliminations, which begin at 11 a.m. "Al's always tough and so is Jim Dunn (Hofmann's team owner)," said Densham, who is 0-for-6 in career final round appearances. "That's going to be just like the old match racing days back in Southern California." Bernstein scored his 54th career No. 1 in Top Fuel, clocking a track record 4.574 at 319.07 in his Budweiser King dragster. However, Bernstein's efforts from Saturday are cause for concern. He smoked the tires on both runs, finally popping the supercharger on the final qualifying attempt. "It started to spin the tires and I should have shut it off, I know better than that," said Bernstein. "I hate to tear up a bunch of parts and give my guys a lot of extra work for tonight. Tim (Richards, crew chief) and the guys will work on it and get it sorted out for tomorrow. You never like to end (qualifying) like that. You hope to get in a solid run and feel like you're ready to go on Sunday." Allen took his 12th career top qualifying effort in Pro Stock, speeding down the quarter-mile in 6.934 at 198.47 in his Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am.

-NHRA

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Al Hofmann , Gary Densham , Bruce Allen