Originally-From: AVestal@NHRA.com HEBRON, Ohio -- Kenny Bernstein powered his Budweiser King dragster to the quickest run of the day in Top Fuel at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing just before rain showers forced ...
HEBRON, Ohio -- Kenny Bernstein powered his Budweiser King dragster to the quickest run of the day in Top Fuel at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing just before rain showers forced NHRA officials to cancel the remainder of the final qualifying session in the 6,000 horsepower category.
Dean Skuza, Mike Edwards, Angelle Savoie and Don Smith also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories Friday at the $2 million race, the 11th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Bernstein and Scott Weis, who made his Top Fuel debut with the run, were the only Top Fuel drivers in the category to make a pass in the second session, just before the rains came. First round leader Gary Scelzi and 14 others were denied a second run by Mother Nature. All other pro categories received two sessions.
Bernstein, who has won the last three national events, covered the National Trail Raceway quarter-mile in 4.659 seconds at 316.82 mph to lead the 16-car order, just in front of Scelzi, who was second with a 4.674 at 313.51 in the Team Winston dragster.
"We got lucky there because that 4.65 is about all we had in it for that run and there were about 10 other cars in that session that could've run quicker," said Bernstein, who lost traction during his first attempt. "Realistically this storm will cool things down a little bit and we should be quick tomorrow. There's still a lot of racing to do."
Local favorite Skuza, from Brecksville, Ohio, took the Funny Car lead with a 4.885 at 305.08 in the Team Mopar Dodge R/T.
Skuza was in the last pair of Funny Cars that went down the track and dodged rain sprinkles as he emerged from his car following the run.
"We cut it pretty close," said Skuza. "I had a few rain drops on my windshield when we were towing the car back to the pits. Thank goodness it all worked out. Obviously that session was a lot better than the first one."
Edwards led the 16-car Pro Stock order, recording a 6.988 at 196.36 in the Young Life Chevy Cavalier.
Edwards, who parted ways with former team owner Ron Krisher following a victory in Chicago, looked impressive with a new Reher-Morrision engine under the hood.
"This Chevy Cavalier is awesome," Edwards said. "I'm the happiest guy out here right now. I'm really proud of my team -- that was about as good a run as you could have out here."
Savoie was quickest among Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors, clocking a 7.300 at 182.75 on her Team Winston Suzuki.
"We were expecting to run better," Savoie said. "We're back on track now with Rick Ward's engines. I've never felt an engine pull this well through all six gears. It's pretty awesome."
Smith paced the Pro Stock Truck order with a 7.580 at 178.78 in his Texas Harley Davidson Chevy S-10.
"We posted that number with all that Bill Jenkins horsepower at the top end," said Smith, 59, a late bloomer in the sport who has only been racing for about four years. "If I ever learn to drive we're going to be dangerous."
Qualifying continues Saturday with rounds at 11:45 a.m. and 3 p.m.