Bernstein, crew forced to rally during eliminations at Gatornationals

Bernstein and his team plan to stick around an extra day at Auto-Plus Raceway to test.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Between the first and second rounds of Top Fuel at the NHRA Gatornationals, the dragster sent Brandon Bernstein and his team into a panic following the warm-up.

Bernstein was still fresh off of his first-round victory over Bob Vandergriff Jr. when his dragster's engine developed a problem, sending his and teammate Morgan Lucas' crews into a full-on thrash to swap engines.

Brandon Bernstein
Brandon Bernstein

Photo by: Anne Proffit

"That's what Morgan Lucas Racing is all about," Bernstein said. "We're a big team, and when one team or another has problems the other is right there to help out.

"I think we did the motor change with all the guys helping in like 20 minutes. It was intense, but that's way you have teammates."

Bernstein made a solid run with the new engine in round two but lost to No. 1 qualifier Doug Kalitta.

Bernstein got off the line first, but Kalitta's car pulled around at about the eighth-mile marker. Kalitta crossed the finish line in 3.791 seconds at 319.45 mph while Bernstein finished in 3.813 seconds at 322.58 mph.

"We made a great run," Bernstein said. "We gave Doug a real run for his money. His car was just a little bit quicker. We'll regroup and head to Las Vegas next."

In the first round against Vandergriff, Bernstein also got the edge at the starting line before rolling to a 3.828 at 322.96 mph. Vandergriff crossed in 4.711 seconds at 159.27 mph.

"It was kind of a different feel when we got here this morning," Bernstein said. "There was a ton of moisture in the air and was a lot cooler.

It was a big challenge for our crew chief Joe Barlam and the rest of the guys to figure out how to set up the car in the first round. The car went right down the middle, so the guys were right on the money."

Bernstein and his team plan to stick around an extra day at Auto-Plus Raceway to test.

"We're going to work on some new clutch parts," Bernstein said. "If you aren't always looking forward in this sport, you are a step behind. We're hoping these new parts work the way we want and will help us get to the winner's circle."

Morgan Lucas Racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Brandon Bernstein , Morgan Lucas , Bob Vandergriff
Article type Race report
Tags bernstein, gainesville, gatornationals, nhra, top fuel