Columbus: Bernstein, Skuza, Marnell top qualifiers

HEBRON, Ohio -- Kenny Bernstein will try for his fourth straight Top Fuel victory of the season and fifth overall Sunday as the No. 1 qualifier at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing. Dean Skuza, George ...

HEBRON, Ohio -- Kenny Bernstein will try for his fourth straight Top Fuel victory of the season and fifth overall Sunday as the No. 1 qualifier at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing. Dean Skuza, George Marnell, Angelle Savoie and Bob Panella also will lead their respective pro categories into tomorrow's 11 a.m. eliminations at National Trail Raceway for the $2 million race, the 11th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Bernstein scored his sixth top qualifying award of the season as no one improved on his 4.659 second effort at 316.82 mph from Friday. Larry Dixon posted the quickest run of the day and advanced to second in the 16-car order, clocking a 4.668 at 307.86 in the Miller Lite dragster. Bernstein will face No. 16 qualifier Steve Smith in a day that promises to be unpredictable as teams make the transition from a crisp, cool first half of the season to the first of several races that will challenge tuners with hot and humid conditions. "It's like we have two seasons," Bernstein said. "The winter season is over and now the summer season has started. It's going to be different for everyone with the heat and humidity. You almost need some luck in a round or two to win a race when the conditions get like this." Skuza captured his third career No. 1 qualifying award in Funny Car and second of the season as his Team Mopar Dodge R/T remained in front with a 4.885 at 305.08. Skuza, who faces John Lawson in the opening round, echoed Bernstein's thoughts about the high possibility for first round upsets. "When the sun comes out it's a different ballgame for everyone," Skuza said. "The parity is so good right now in Funny Car that no one is a sure bet. It's great for the fans, but I bite my nails every day." Marnell took his first No. 1 qualifying effort in Pro Stock since 1995 in Denver, clocking a 6.935 at 198.03 in a Pontiac Grand Am. Angelle Savoie took her second top qualifying position of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, speeding to a 7.224 at 184.35 on her Team Winston Suzuki. Panella claimed his fourth No. 1 qualifying effort of the season in Pro Stock Truck, recording a track record run of 7.519 at 187.61 in a Chevy S-10.

-NHRA

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Dean Skuza , Steve Smith , George Marnell