Sonoma: Saturday qualifying summary

Bernstein, Bazemore, Coughlin Survive The Saturday Heat At Sears Point To Hold On To The Top Spots SONOMA, Calif. - Kenny Bernstein held the top spot in Top Fuel after Saturday's final qualifying at the NHRA's FRAM-Autolite...

Bernstein, Bazemore, Coughlin Survive The Saturday Heat At Sears Point To Hold On To The Top Spots

SONOMA, Calif. - Kenny Bernstein held the top spot in Top Fuel after Saturday's final qualifying at the NHRA's FRAM-Autolite Nationals. Bernstein's Budweiser King dragster needed a quarter-mile run of 4.560 seconds at 319.45 mph to earn his 59th career top qualifying position and his 21st as a Top Fuel driver.

Whit Bazemore and Jeg Coughlin Jr. also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective divisions at the $1.7 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing event at Sears Point Raceway.

Bernstein will start from the top spot for the seventh time this season but more importantly will receive a single run on Sunday due to the fact that only 15 Top Fuel cars attempted qualifying runs. Bernstein will automatically earn 20 Winston points with his bye run during eliminations on Sunday.

"The bye is really nice to have," said Bernstein, currently the leader in the NHRA Winston Top Fuel points standings. "I hate to see us with a short field but the bye is important. It gives you points but it also gives you another run to tune-up in the heat of the day. That's more important right now than anything else"

Bazemore's Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird topped the Funny Car category with a run of 4.883 at 301.87 mph. Bazemore's Friday night qualifying pass was strong enough to hold off the Funny Car class for his third pole in four events.

"It means we're running well here," said Bazemore, the 1999 Funny Car winner at Sears Point Raceway. "We've got to be ready for tomorrow. Tomorrow is a whole new day. Just because we are number one today, doesn't mean anything tomorrow. We've got the be prepared and I know that this team is going to stay here all night and prepare me the best possible car they can."

Coughlin held off the Pro Stock division with a track record of 6.880 at 199.14 in his Jeg's Mail Order Chevrolet Cavalier. Coughlin earns his first top qualify award of the season and the sixth of his career.

"It feels great," said Coughlin, the reigning NHRA Winston Pro Stock champion. "We look for this to be good things to come for tomorrow and race day. We've got to get our game face on because we have struggled in the heat today than we did last night. Certainly starting from the number one spot will be a big benefit for us."

Final elimintations start Sunday at 11 a.m.

-NHRA-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kenny Bernstein , Whit Bazemore