Bernstein, Bazemore and Anderson Earn O'Reilly Summer Nationals Victories TOPEKA, Kan. -- Brandon Bernstein moved into the POWERade Series points lead by racing to the Top Fuel victory Sunday at the 16th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals ...
Bernstein, Bazemore and Anderson Earn O'Reilly Summer Nationals Victories
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Brandon Bernstein moved into the POWERade Series points lead by racing to the Top Fuel victory Sunday at the 16th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX at Heartland Park Topeka.
Whit Bazemore and Greg Anderson also were winners at the $1.9 million race, the ninth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Bernstein powered his Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster to a 4.729 second run at 294.43 mph to claim his third victory of the season and the sixth of his career. Doug Kalitta's Mac Tools dragster lost traction and posted a 4.874 at 291.95 in the runner-up effort.
"It's great to be back in the points lead," said Bernstein, who led for one race in 2003. "This time we'd like to keep it a little longer. We're fortunate that Schumacher stumbled a little in Round 2. It opened the door for us."
Bernstein used consistent 4.5-second runs to defeat Scott Palmer and Doug Herbert, and unleashed a 4.493 to beat defending series champ Larry Dixon in a titan second round meeting.
"The crew did a great job," Bernstein said. "It was nice and cool early on and then it got hot later, which really says a lot about (crew chief) Tim Richards and his ability. He has a great tune-up for hot tracks and he's just as good when it's cold. It's great to win races any time and I'm still just as excited about this one as I was about the first. It's an awesome feeling to go through the field and run like we did today."
Bernstein moved 20 points ahead of season-long points leader Schumacher, who lost in the second round to Scott Kalitta.
Bazemore extended his points lead in Funny Car by outrunning first time finalist Eric Medlen. Bazemore clocked a 5.168 at 269.94 in his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus R/T while rookie Medlen's Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang lost traction and posted a 7.795 at 112.98.
"It was a perfect afternoon, a perfect weekend, really," said Bazemore, who beat Tony Bartone, Gary Densham and current points-rival Del Worsham to advance to the final round and earn his 17th career victory.
"The car was virtually flawless until the final, but no one's perfect I guess," he added. "The car was actually in trouble earlier than it appeared. It started spinning the tires early on just a little bit and I thought about doing something about it but I didn't see him so I stayed with it to see if it would drive recover on its own. It wasn't until half-track when I had to pedal. I still didn't see him then so I figured he was having problems."
It was Bazemore's second win at Heartland Park. With the victory -- his second of the season -- he increased his points lead to 76 over Worsham.
"Topeka is great," Bazemore said. "I got my first win here in 1997. I remember that race well, against randy Anderson. We got there on different paths but I remember thinking I didn't want to give it away in the final. To come back now as the POWERade points leader and win the race and increase my lead is great. I've never been out front like this early in the season."
Anderson claimed his seventh victory of the season and in the process earned more than $100,000 for the weekend, which included a $25,000 "double-up" bonus from NHRA.
"This is more money than I ever thought I could win at a drag race," said Anderson, who outsted early round opponents Mike Edwards, JR Carr and Allen Johnson en route to his 23rd career victory. "To come out on top and win all this money without out-driving people feels almost better then when you crush them. Every race I won this weekend it seemed like you couldn't tell who won when you went through the lights. We saw a lot of teams step it up."
Anderson, who defeated rookie Dave Connolly for the King Demon Crown victory Saturday, drove his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to a final round performance of 6.833 at 202.30 to hold off Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevy Cavalier, which ran 6.845 at 201.31. He is only the fifth Pro Stock driver to accomplish the rare double in NHRA history and the first to do it in 11 seasons.
"The truth is when you race this hard and do this well you'd like your peers to pat you on the back once in awhile," said Anderson, who increased his series points lead to 312 with the victory. "That really hasn't happened to us."
The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues with the 40th annual Pontiac Excitement NHRA Nationals at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio, June 10-13.