Atlanta: Saturday final qualifying summary

Bernstein, Densham, Anderson and Savoie earn No. 1 qualifiers at Atlanta Dragway. COMMERCE, Ga. - Kenny Bernstein soared to the front of the Top Fuel category Saturday during the 22nd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at ...

Bernstein, Densham, Anderson and Savoie earn No. 1 qualifiers at Atlanta Dragway.

COMMERCE, Ga. - Kenny Bernstein soared to the front of the Top Fuel category Saturday during the 22nd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

Bernstein drove his Budweiser King Dragster to a 4.544-second pass at 327.35 mph to lead the Top Fuel class.

Gary Densham, Greg Anderson and Angelle Savoie grabbed the No. 1 spot in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the seventh of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

This is the 62nd career No. 1 qualifying position for Bernstein, and sixth at this track.

"There really isn't a reason why we have done well here at this track," Bernstein said. "Maybe it is because this is the home of Coca-Cola and POWERade, I don't know. Maybe it is the track. It is a great race track, one of the best that we go to all year."

Bernstein clocked the best time in both qualifying sessions on Saturday. Bernstein said the team went for a stellar time in the second session, which turned into a nighttime slot after the afternoon session was bumped because of a rain delay.

"We didn't have anything to lose on the last one," Bernstein said. "It is not like we threw the kitchen sink at that run, but we went for it and it worked out. It could have easily gone the other way and we could have smoked the tires too.

"It's going to be around 77-80 degrees tomorrow, so you won't see any 4.54's. We are going to have to pick up some information from some of the other, warmer tracks that we have already been to this year in order to get down a warmer track."

Densham took the top spot in the Funny Car category for the third time in his career with a 4.808 at 320.89 in his Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang. The pass was good enough for the elapsed time track record.

"We had a good run," Densham said. "I'm a pretty happy guy to be No. 1 for only the third time in my career. We are just pushing to be one of the more consistent cars out on the track. So far, the guys are getting the job done and giving me a great car."

Densham said one of his main competitors for the top qualifying position was teammate Tony Pedregon in the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Pedregon set the track record for speed with a 4.819 run at 322.65.

"Tony made a real stab at trying to take it away from us and pick my pocket," Densham said. "I'm happy for those guys because it was a great run. If we do meet up with them, it won't be until the finals. We are just going to worry about our first round matchup for now."

Anderson earned his second low qualifying position with a 6.813 run at 201.94 setting the elapsed time track record in his Vegas Construction Chevy Cavalier to top the Pro Stock class.

Both top qualifiers have come at Atlanta Dragway. He still, however, has yet to take home the event trophy.

"Obviously I like this place," Anderson said. "I lived here for 12 years and worked for Warren (Johnson) and we did a lot of testing here so I must have learned a lot. I really need to win a race here though. I lost to (Jim) Yates here in the final last year."

As with most of the teams, Anderson realizes the qualifying runs will not help win the race. The predicted conditions for Sunday's elimination rounds are much warmer than the two days of qualifying.

"After a run like that, you are on top of the world," Anderson said. "But it is going to be 80 degrees tomorrow and you can throw all that out the window. We are going to enjoy this because that run was perfect and the car didn't shake a bit. I am really proud of my crew."

Savoie grabbed the 25th No. 1 qualifying position of her career with a track record elapsed time of 7.124 at 189.76 on her CVEC Suzuki to pace the Pro Stock Motorcycle category.

The No. 1 qualifying position was more special for Savoie because she just unveiled a new primary sponsor on Friday.

"I am so excited because this is our first No. 1 of the year," Savoie said. "I guess I am still absorbing the great new colors and team and getting used to saying CVEC Suzuki. This is turning out to be a very fun weekend."

Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham