Bernstein closes in on Dixon with Top Fuel victory at Matco Tools Supernationals; Densham, Anderson, Brown also claim wins in NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event. ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Kenny Bernstein kept his perfect record at Old Bridge ...
Bernstein closes in on Dixon with Top Fuel victory at Matco Tools Supernationals; Densham, Anderson, Brown also claim wins in NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Kenny Bernstein kept his perfect record at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in tact Sunday, defeating Larry Dixon in an exciting Top Fuel final at the Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions.
Bernstein, who has never lost a final round decision at the historic New Jersey quarter-mile facility during his distinguished career, claimed his seventh victory at the track and the 63rd of his career. It was Bernstein's second victory of the season, and an important one as the legendary driver who is retiring at the end of the season battles with rival Dixon for the POWERade Top Fuel championship.
Gary Densham, Greg Anderson and Antron Brown also were winners in their respective pro categories at the $2 million race, the eighth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Bernstein powered his Budweiser King dragster to a 4.600 second run at 321.96 mph to take the win, while Dixon's Miller Lite dragster lost traction early and recovered to post a 4.818 at 319.90. It was Dixon's seventh final round appearance of the season.
With the victory, Bernstein cut into Dixon's lead, and now trails by 143 with 15 races to go. But, according to Bernstein, every point counts in this high-stakes battle. Last season Bernstein edged Dixon for the series crown at the final race of the season. While Dixon hopes for pay-back, Bernstein wants to finish his career with a seventh NHRA championship trophy.
"It's a big rivalry, that's for sure," said Bernstein, also a winner here last year. "This was a big win for us. (Larry) has got off to a good start this season and we need to win some races and try and keep pace with him. That's the plan from here on out."
The victory was very special for Bernstein, who has never lost a final round decision at this track during his storied career. Prior to the semifinals, Bernstein was honored by New Jersey Governor James McGreevey with a proclamation attesting to his success at the famed track over the years.
"We love it here, the fans really know their drag racing, and we've been very fortunate here over the years" said Bernstein, who defeated Jim Head, Doug Kalitta and Tony Schumacher to advance to his fourth final of the season. "We certainly appreciate the Governor coming out today and taking some time out of his busy schedule. It really means a lot given how special this place has been to us over the years."
Densham moved into the series points lead for the first time in his 30-year career with his second Funny Car victory of the season. Densham posted a 5.046 at 316.38 in his Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang, while Bruce Sarver's White Cap Toyota Celica lost traction at mid-track and ran 7.310 at 115.29.
"To lead the points is unbelievable, if you told anyone that they'd say you were lying," said an excited Densham, the category's former journeyman who has emerged as a leading Funny Car driver since joining John Force Racing last year. "John Force leads the points. Tony Pedregon leads the points, but not Gary Densham. I called home and told my wife and I think they'll wake her up tomorrow sometime.
"It's absolutely great. The team did a super job this weekend. John (Force) didn't have the best of weekends and Tony (Pedregon) had a problem in the second round. We just kinda picked up the ball and ran with it."
Force, who qualified 15th and lost in the first round, fell to second place overall, two points behind Densham in the standings.
Anderson scored his third career Pro Stock victory and first of the season, defeating Jeg Coughlin in the final round in a photo-finish. Anderson drove his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to a 6.808 at 201.91, crossing the finish line in front of Coughlin's Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier, which posted a 6.812 at 202.33.
Anderson became the eighth different winner in Pro Stock this season in as many races. "This class is probably the toughest of them all," said Anderson. "Every year it seems to get tougher and tougher. It's like every race you go to there's more cars with a chance of winning. There were probably 15 cars here this weekend that could run 6.70s and win the race. That's close racing.
"I'm just pleased that the car is finally coming around. The crew is fantastic and we're starting to work together and get on the same page. I think we're going to be tough the rest of the year."
Warren Johnson maintained the points lead in Pro Stock, despite losing in the opening round to Mark Osborne. Jim Yates, who advanced to the semifinal, moved to within five points of Johnson's lead. Anderson's victory moved him to fifth in the standings.
Brown claimed his first Pro Stock Motorcycle victory of the season and the 10th of his career, defeating Craig Treble. Brown rode his Suzuki to a 7.118 at 192.63, while Treble was a tick off the pace, clocking a 7.155 at 183.92. It was the first time Brown, from nearby Chesterfield, N.J., has earned a win at the track where he started his career.
"It's awesome to win here at home in front of all my family and friends," said Brown, "This is one of the most difficult tracks. In the past I always red-lighted here. It's cool to finally win a race at this place."
Angelle Savoie, who lost to Brown in the semifinals, remained in the points lead, 11 in front of runner-up Treble.
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX, May 23-26 at Heartland Park Topeka, Topeka, Kan.