Joliet: Bernstein, Force set national ET records

JOLIET, Ill. - Records continued to fall at Route 66 Raceway as Kenny Bernstein earned the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals with a national elapsed time record run 4.477 seconds at 330.88 mph. Bernstein earned...

JOLIET, Ill. - Records continued to fall at Route 66 Raceway as Kenny Bernstein earned the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals with a national elapsed time record run 4.477 seconds at 330.88 mph. Bernstein earned his 57th career pole and fifth this season aboard the Budweiser King dragster.

John Force, Mike Edwards, Angelle Savoie and Scott Perin led their respective divisions at the $2 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing event outside Chicago.

Bernstein earned the nickname "King of Speed" after running the first 300 mph pas in 1992. With the national elapsed time record in hand, Bernstein can also be called the "King of E.T.".

"The track is good but the conditions make the track good," said Bernstein, the only NHRA competitor to win Winston championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. "If it was 95 degrees right now we wouldn't be talking so much about it (the national record). That is the nature of the beast in drag racing. When you get cool conditions and cloud cover and no sunshine, these tracks come around and this is a great track."

Force's national elapsed time record of 4.763 at 320.05 led the Funny Car order, earning his 103rd career pole and third straight at Route 66 Raceway. Force is accustomed to breaking records and he knew that his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang was going to run the big number.

"(Crew chief) Bernie Fedderly called it on the radio and said it ain't going to get any better than this no where this year," said Force. "You either do it now or go home and don't do anything stupid. You just do it and it works, you don't know why because you are right and its right."

Edwards earned his third top qualifying award of the season to lead the Pro Stock division with a run of 6.842 at 200.50 in his Young Life Chevrolet Camaro. Edwards is no stranger to the pole position this season but was still amazed at the tight field in Pro Stock.

"That was probably one of the best Pro Stock sessions this year," said Edwards. "Coming into last session with conditions changing like that. It is probably the toughest class in drag racing and in all of motorsports." Savoie's Team Winston Suzuki led the Pro Stock Motorcycle field with a track record pass of 7.103 at 187.78 while Perin's Napa Development Chevrolet S-10 held off the Pro Stock Truck category with a track record 7.423 at 181.08. Savoie changed out motors after Friday and tried to go even faster on Saturday.

"Rick Ward and Ward Performance Motors has collaborated with Star Racing and George Bryce and they have built this engine together," said Savoie, the defending NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Winston champion. "Today was just a test. We haven't even gotten the engine to the shop and put it on the dyno, so we don't even know how much horsepower it produces."

Savoie's e.t. equaled Antron Brown's national record while Matt Hines elevated the track speed record to 191.19 mph. In all, two national records fell while eight track records were broken during the two days of qualifying on Friday and Saturday.

In the Holley Pro Stock Truck Dominator Duel, Jeff Gracia earned $20,000 by defeating Todd Patterson. Gracia's Panella Trucking GMC Sonoma pass of 7.441 at 181.64 held off Patterson's Dodge Dakota R/T which came in at 7.447 at 181.54. Gracia's win was the first of his career and the first for a GMC in the Holley Pro Stock Truck Dominator Duel.

"In the final it was just a good, close race," said Gracia. "It was good for Pro Stock Truck. It was a good old fashioned factory shootout with a GMC Sonoma on one side and a Mopar on the other. It was good for the sport, the class and everyone all around."

Final eliminations start Sunday at 11 a.m.

-NHRA

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Matt Hines , John Force , Todd Patterson , Jeff Gracia , George Bryce , Mike Edwards