Englishtown: Saturday summary

Bernstein, Medlen, Anderson and Hines Have the Top Spots at K&N Filters NHRA Supernationals ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - Brandon Bernstein is one step closer to slamming the book shut on the 2003 season as he qualified No. 1 in Top Fuel Saturday during...

Bernstein, Medlen, Anderson and Hines Have the Top Spots at K&N Filters NHRA Supernationals

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - Brandon Bernstein is one step closer to slamming the book shut on the 2003 season as he qualified No. 1 in Top Fuel Saturday during the 35th annual K&N Filters NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Eric Medlen (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Bike) also earned the No. 1 qualifying position in their respective categories at the $2.1 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.

Bernstein suffered major back injuries at this track last year during a first round crash. The accident kept him on the sidelines for the rest of the 2003 season. He spent four months in a brace that ran from his chin to his waist before doing another five months of rehabilitation.

The 2004 season has been rehabilitation for his confidence as Bernstein has earned three wins and three top qualifying efforts en route to the No. 2 spot in the standings after the first 10 races of the season.

Bernstein drove his Budweiser dragster to a 4.565-second run at 325.85 mph for his fifth career No. 1 position and is looking to right the wrong from 2003.

"It's great to have another No. 1 qualifying effort," Bernstein said. "To have such a great start to the season once again after what happened here last year is really special.

"I've gotten into a mindset where this is just another strip and that's pretty much how I will approach it when we pull up to the line on Sunday."

Bernstein's biggest concern for Sunday has everything to do with the track conditions. The track temperature has hovered in the 110-120 degree range but is expected to drop slightly on Sunday.

"It's tough out there," Bernstein said. "The track is really slippery and you can't put too much power to the track because it's not responding the way we like it to. (Crew chief) Tim Richards has a handle on the car, I feel, and we'll try to do our best."

Medlen turned in a 4.830 at 317.72 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang for his first career No. 1 spot in Funny Car. Medlen's crew chief, John Medlen, is also his father.

"It's really cool to do this for the first time with my dad on Father's Day weekend," Medlen said. "To have him working side-by-side with me and to drive the car he tunes is just tremendous. It's great to give him a Father's Day present like this. I can't even imagine what a win would feel like."

Medlen has been close to knowing that winning feeling. He was the runner-up to Whit Bazemore in Topeka just three weeks ago. He does, however, know what it is like to be on the winning team. He worked as a crew member for the Force Racing program for eight seasons before taking over driving duties this year.

"As part of this team for all those years when I worked on the cars, I bet I've been part of 100 or so wins," Medlen said. "You get to a point where you come to expect them. Then you come to drive and you learn real fast that it's so tough to even win one round.

"I think this shows we're capable of running against the very best drivers in the world, which is exactly what we have in this class. I've still got a lot to learn, for sure, but we're getting better."

Anderson earned the 25th No. 1 qualifying position of his career with a 6.766 pass at 203.89 in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am. He has eight top qualifying awards in 2004 alone.

Anderson has eight wins this season too.

"I'd say the heat is here for good," Anderson said. "We got our first real dose a week ago in Columbus and we saw some teams fall off. Now we're in the thick of it and even more guys are struggling. It's a challenge, but last year as it got hotter, our team did better and better. So I am not overly concerned.

"I would say that our guys proved last summer that they are very good at adapting to slippery tracks. I just hope we can continue that trend again this year."

Hines earned the fifth top qualifying position of his career and of the season when he rode his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 7.078 run at 189.60.

"These Harleys love the heat just like they love altitude," Hines said. "We have almost twice the torque of the Suzukis and Kawasakis so heat like this isn't such a big factor for us.

"It's nice to be No. 1 again. I'm getting used to these $1,000 checks every weekend (for top qualifiers)."

Final eliminations are set for 11 a.m. Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Greg Anderson , Brandon Bernstein , Andrew Hines , Tim Richards , Eric Medlen , John Medlen