Day three Firebird time trials notes

Bernstein makes career-best pass; Dixon and Bazemore lead respective fields. CHANDLER, Ariz. - Top Fuel rookie Brandon Bernstein recorded the quickest and fastest pass Sunday at the 2003 NHRA National Time Trials at Firebird International ...

Bernstein makes career-best pass; Dixon and Bazemore lead respective fields.

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Top Fuel rookie Brandon Bernstein recorded the quickest and fastest pass Sunday at the 2003 NHRA National Time Trials at Firebird International Raceway.

Bernstein blasted the Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster down the track in 4.581 seconds at 323.12 mph on his third and final pass of the day to set the standard in the category.

"That run was just awesome," said the 30-year-old Bernstein. "(Crew chief) Tim Richards and the guys had the Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster smoking down the track. I didn't want to lift (off the throttle). That is the quickest and fastest I've ever gone. It was amazing.

"Our goal coming to this test session was to get the car race-ready and to get me comfortable inside the car. After three days I'm getting that comfort feeling. I'll just keep getting more comfortable after the test session in Tucson (Ariz.) next weekend."

Defending NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon had the best pass of the weekend during the second day of the test session as he prepares to try and become the first Top Fuel driver to defend his series crown since Gary Scelzi (1997-'98). Dixon's Miller Lite dragster made it down the quarter-mile drag strip in 4.558 at 322.73, despite shutting the engine off well before the finish line.

Force Racing teammates Tony Pedregon and Gary Densham recorded identical elapsed times in their Ford Mustangs as each shut the clocks off with a pass of 4.823. Densham's speed of 317.34 on his final run was better than Pedregons speed of 300.86 during his first pass of the day.

Whit Bazemore made the best Funny Car pass of the weekend, notching the low E.T. and top speed at the test session. Bazemore powered his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus R/T through the clocks in 4.820 at320.89. Bazemore also was impressive in his two runs on Sunday, earning times of 4.856 and 4.902.

"We're pretty happy so far because we have been competitive and consistent," said Bazemore. "During the offseason we tried to address some of the problems we had and we have made progress. We made a good start this weekend.

"We are staying here to test for the next five days and we are going to try some new technology on the new Dodge Stratus. We feel pretty good heading to Pomona (Calif.) for the season-opener. It's a long year and we still have a lot of work to do."

Craig Treble continued his impressive performance as the lone Pro Stock Bike racer to attend the test session. Treble's Matco Tools Suzuki covered the distance in 7.142 at 186.90 on his second of four passes on the day. Treble is seeking to become the first rider to run quicker than seven seconds and collect the $25,000 bonus offered in the Mickey Thompson Pro Stock Bike six-second club bonus program.

The 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series begins with the K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 6-9 at Pomona Raceway. NHRA Competitors will return to Firebird Raceway for the second event of the 2003 season, the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, Feb. 20-23.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Craig Treble , Brandon Bernstein , Tim Richards