Pomona II: Valvoline/Eagle One preview

Top Fuel: Russell, Amato Hail Bernstein's Farewell Joe Amato, owner of Darrell Russell's Valvoline-backed Bilstein Engine Flush Top Fuel dragster, is a longtime friend of retiring NHRA legend Kenny Bernstein. Amato recorded five Top Fuel...

Top Fuel: Russell, Amato Hail Bernstein's Farewell

Joe Amato, owner of Darrell Russell's Valvoline-backed Bilstein Engine Flush Top Fuel dragster, is a longtime friend of retiring NHRA legend Kenny Bernstein. Amato recorded five Top Fuel titiles and 52 wins, both NHRA records, during his career. He retired following the 2000 season due to eye injuries.

Russell on Bernstein's retirement following Sunday's Auto Club Nationals at Pomona: "Probably in 1984 or '85, my parents and I went to the Cajun Nationals. My Dad has this picture of me -- I was like 15 years old -- getting an autograph from Kenny Bernstein. Then, last year, he was signing off on my Top Fuel license. It's interesting how life makes a full circle."

Amato on Bernstein's retirement: "We've talked a lot about it (retirement). One nice thing about it is he has a son (Brandon) he can stick in the car. I think he's comfortable and accomplished what he's wanted to do. He's beat up pretty good from being in the car and racing all these years, his neck and his back. I think he'll be OK because he's a pretty tough character. He's ready. His mind is ready to get out of the car, but it will probably be pretty emotional at the end, but once he gets there, he'll be happy."

Russell has three victories this season and is sixth in Top Fuel points. He's trying to finish the season in the top five, now just five points behind No. 5 Cory McClenathan. At a U.S. Nationals news conference, it was announced Russell and crew chief Wayne Dupuy signed three-year contract extensions with owner Joe Amato -- through 2005. Bilstein Engine Flush will continue as primary sponsor, with Valvoline and Keystone Automotive as associate sponsors.

Continuing one of the most successful partnerships in modern motor racing, Valvoline returns in 2002 for the 19th season as a sponsor of Joe Amato's Top Fuel team. From 1984 through his retirement after the 2000 campaign, Valvoline's technical, product and financial support helped Amato to five Top Fuel championships and 52 victories, both NHRA records. Darrell Russell added to the record in 2001, with two wins, and NHRA Rookie of the Year honors in Amato's dragster. Bilstein Engine Flush is Amato Racing's new primary sponsor.

Pro Stock: Krisher's Qualifying Streak Hits 69

Ron Krisher has qualified for 69 consecutive NHRA Pro Stock events going into this weekend's race at Pomona. Since Warren Johnson failed to qualify at Somona, ending a 303-race consecutive qualifying streak, Krisher's effort in the Eagle One Chevrolet Cavalier tops the Pro Stock class. Krisher has eight poles this season and won at Las Vegas.

Krisher's qualifying streak dates back to the year 2000 season-opener at Pomona. Pro Stock may well be the most competitive racing series in the world, with between 34-37 cars typically trying for the 16 qualifying positions. Krisher was one of only four drivers to qualify for all 24 NHRA events in 2001.He's the only driver to qualify for every Pro Stock race this season.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Hines No. 1 Qualifier at Vegas

Three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Matt Hines put his Eagle One Suzuki on the pole at the most recent NHRA POWERade series event, at Las Vegas. He's trying to finish third in points this weekend at Pomona, as Hines is No. 4, but just nine points behind No. 3 Antron Brown.

-v/eo-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Joe Amato , Ron Krisher , Cory McClenathan