Seattle: Saturday summary

Bernstein, T. Pedregon Aand Whisnant score top spots at Lucas Oil NHRA Northwest Nationals. KENT, Wash. - Kenny Bernstein scored his 65th career No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the 15th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific...

Bernstein, T. Pedregon Aand Whisnant score top spots at Lucas Oil NHRA Northwest Nationals.

KENT, Wash. - Kenny Bernstein scored his 65th career No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the 15th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.

Tony Pedregon and Mark Whisnant also were the top qualifiers of their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the 14th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Bernstein clocked a 4.583 second run at a track record speed of 323.58 mph in his Budweiser King dragster to lead all Top Fuel competitors for the fourth time this season. Bernstein had not qualified in the top spot at Pacific Raceways since 1980 when he competed in Funny Car. The Northwest facility also was the site of his first career No. 1 qualifying effort in 1978.

"I don't pay much attention to the statistics," said the 57-year-old Bernstein. "(Crew chief) Tim Richards gave me a good horse to go out there and drive today. It's difficult to win any race, but it could be very difficult tomorrow with the sun out. The sun makes a tremendous difference and lane choice is going to be very important. There is no question that the left lane is rougher. We'll have to find out what happens tomorrow. I hope it's cloudy."

Bernstein will meet Ron Smith in the opening round of eliminations while rival and current Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon qualified third in the Miller Lite dragster and will face Scott Weis in the first round. Darrell Russell took the No. 2 spot with a 4.585 pass at 313.80 and will face Don Sosenka.

Pedregon earned top honors in Funny Car for the 13th time in his career when he piloted his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang down the quarter-mile track in 4.848 seconds at a track record speed of 315.19 to lead the 16-car order. Pedregon entered Seattle No. 4 in the NHRA POWERade standings and will face Bob Gilbertson in the opening round.

"(The track) isn't too bad out there," said Pedregon of the recently re-paved racing surface. "I don't think there is a difference between the two lanes. Actually, I don't really care as long as they're straight. Tomorrow we have to make the right decisions and make sure we get past the first and second rounds."

Whisnant earned his first career No. 1 qualifying position when he registered a track record time of 6.777 at 202.55 in his RW Performance Chevy Cavalier to set the pace in Pro Stock. Whisnant will face No. 16 qualifier Mike Edwards who was the Pro Stock winner at Denver last week.

"I knew we could run with the top guys of (Pro Stock)," said the 34-year-old Whisnant. "We sat down on Friday night and came up with a game plan. My team decided it was going to be hero or zero. We saw an excellent race track during the morning session and we got after it."

Professional eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Scott Weis , Bob Gilbertson , Tony Pedregon , Mark Whisnant , Tim Richards , Mike Edwards