St. Louis Bernstein story (Top Fuel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 BERNSTEIN ENTERS CRUCIAL STRETCH OF TOP FUEL SEASON AT GATEWAY MADISON, Ill. -- The NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series season is reaching only the halfway point, but it's ...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 BERNSTEIN ENTERS CRUCIAL STRETCH OF TOP FUEL SEASON AT GATEWAY MADISON, Ill. -- The NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series season is reaching only the halfway point, but it's already crunch time for Kenny Bernstein. Bernstein, from Dallas, knows he must make a move toward point leader Gary Scelzi to repeat as NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion in the Budweiser King Dragster. Bernstein is fifth in the Winston point standings, 377 behind Scelzi, after 10 races this season. That's a gap of more than three races. "This is it," Bernstein said. "We've let those guys get way out ahead. They've done a great job. But we have to put the pedal down now. If we let them get out any farther, they'll be gone." Bernstein will try to start a charge toward the front at the inaugural, $1,468,950 Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 26-29 at Gateway International Raceway. The race is the 11th event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997. Clutch problems have plagued Bernstein throughout the late spring. He trailed Scelzi by just 109 points after winning the Fram Nationals in mid-April but hasn't won more than one round at any of the five races since that victory. Scelzi and crew chief Alan Johnson have advanced to at least the semifinals at those five events. But similar clutch problems hurt Bernstein during the same time last season before crew chief Dale Armstrong and the Budweiser King team found a cure. Bernstein won at least two rounds at eight of the last 11 races of the season, including two victories and three runner-up finishes. "My driving the last couple of events has been fair, not where I want it to be," Bernstein said. "We also have to be better mechanically. You hope that Alan and those boys have some trouble, too. If they stay hot, we'll never catch them. But if they cool off, maybe we'll heat up."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Gary Scelzi