JOLIET, Ill. - Kenny Bernstein scored his third straight NHRA Top Fuel victory at Sunday's Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, the 10th race of the NHRA's 50th anniversary season. Del Worsham, Mike Edwards, Antron Brown and Scott Perin...
JOLIET, Ill. - Kenny Bernstein scored his third straight NHRA Top Fuel victory at Sunday's Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, the 10th race of the NHRA's 50th anniversary season.
Del Worsham, Mike Edwards, Antron Brown and Scott Perin also won their respective categories at the $2 million race, the 10th of 24 races in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Bernstein's fourth victory of the season and 57th of his career came when opponent Gary Scelzi lost traction and Bernstein blasted down the track in 4.546 seconds at 322.81 mph. Scelzi's dragster couldn't catch Bernstein, slowing to 7.197 at 109.25. Even though Scelzi smoked the tires in the final, Bernstein knew there were going to be no freebies on Sunday.
"We had it tough today," said Bernstein, a five-time NHRA Winston champion. "It was a good race for everybody. With conditions like this a lot of cars run very well because you can really get after the program and you probably won't smoke the tires. Every time you went up there today you better have it together because it was going to be tough."
Bernstein took out John Smith, Doug Kalitta and Doug Herbert before meeting Scelzi in the finals. This is Bernstein's fourth win this season in as many finals but his recent hot streak is not convincing him to put off his announced retirement after the 2002 season.
"I'll give (crew chief) Tim (Richards) every bit of the credit for making it easy for me to make the announcement to go one more year," said Bernstein. "If we weren't winning or having success or even being competitive, I'd probably take a hard look at it (early retirement). It's going to make it easy this way for us to go another year."
Bernstein came into Chicago as the NHRA Winston Top Fuel points leader and extended his lead over Larry Dixon to 80 points.
Worsham won his fifth career NHRA Funny Car event beating John Force with a quicker starting line reaction time, running a 4.811 at 314.39 to Force's 4.805 at 321.19. The margin of victory was .006 of second and Worsham needed every bit of a reaction time advantage for the win. "He's (John Force) the champ and he's a heck of a competitor," said Worsham, the 1991 NHRA Winston Rookie of the Year. "You saw the race he put up out there. His reaction time in the final was definitely above average. It was just our day today."
Worsham defeated Bruce Sarver, teammate Frank Pedregon, Jim Epler and finally Force in the closest Funny Car race of the day. Worsham moved up from seventh to the fourth spot in the NHRA Winston Funny Car point standings. Force's runner-up finish in Chicago extended his NHRA Winston points lead over Ron Capps to 198.
Edwards earned his ninth career Pro Stock victory with a pass of 6.848 at 200.23 while Pontiac driver Jim Yates ran 6.888 at 200.11 and couldn't catch Edwards' Chevrolet Cavalier. Edwards qualified in the top spot and had no complaints about his weekend in Chicago.
"The Young Life Chevrolet Cavalier was flawless this weekend," said Edwards, the 1996 NHRA Winston Rookie of the Year. "We made eight runs and out of all eight of them you might say one was a little off. My hats off to my team." Edwards faced Darrell Alderman, Larry Morgan and Warren Johnson before outperforming Yates in the final. Edwards made the jump from tenth to fifth in the NHRA Winston Pro Stock point standings. Yates' runner-up finish pushed him just two points past Mark Pawuk for the lead in the Winston point standings.
Brown picked up his second win of the season and the eighth of his career in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Brown took the win light over Angelle Savoie, running a 7.180 at 185.64 while Savoie fouled out before he did in an all Suzuki final.
Brown beat Clarence Markham, Geno Scali and Reggie Showers to earn the final round match-up with the defending Winston champion Savoie. Brown knew with the performance Savoie was demonstrating during qualifying that he needed to leave first. Both Savoie and Brown turned on the red light, but brown took the win because Savoie fouled out before brown did.
"For the final round against Angelle, I had to go back to my old routine," said Brown. "I had nothing to lose and I let the hammer fly. I cut a .392 but she cut a .390. We are just stoked about this win."
Brown stayed in second place in the NHRA Winston Pro Stock Motorcycle point standings, just 37 behind leader Matt Hines.
Perin won his first Pro Stock Truck title after Greg Stanfield fouled at the starting line. Perin covered the distance in 8.117 at 121.65 after Stanfield left early.
Perin's weekend was much more than he was expecting. "We never expected to win here," said Perin. "We never expected to be the number one qualifier. We were shooting for the top half of the field and try to make something out of it, and we did it."
Perin's round wins came at the expense of Scott Tidwell, Taylor Lastor, Todd Patterson and finally Stanfield. Perin's win pushed him to fifth place in the NHRA Winston Pro Stock Truck point standings while Stanfield moved into the top spot with 625 points.
The next NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event is the 37th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals, June 14-17 at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio.