BRISTOL, Tenn.-Even when Kenny Bernstein is not at his best, this can be one tough Texan. Bruce Litton found that out yesterday afternoon when he challenged the only NHRA driver to hold Top Fuel and Funny Car championships during the...
BRISTOL, Tenn.-Even when Kenny Bernstein is not at his best, this can be one tough Texan.
Bruce Litton found that out yesterday afternoon when he challenged the only NHRA driver to hold Top Fuel and Funny Car championships during the second round of Top Fuel eliminations at the NHRA's inaugural Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals.
The No. 1 qualifier was away first, leaving Litton well behind with his holeshot of.484 seconds to .521, to win the head-to-head battle handily. But Bernstein's car was eating some parts at the top end of the run, the header flames mixing it up badly in the lights, and the car left a trail of dense smoke. Litton, who was running his IHRA-legal combination, made a clean lap.
Despite spewing parts and flames, Bernstein still covered Bristol Dragway's quarter-mile in an elapsed time of 4.681 seconds at 303.30 mph. Litton clocked 4.851 seconds and 260.41 mph, and those numbers would have won against many other drivers but not against the King of Speed on this day.
The roles were reverse when Litton faced off against David Grubnic, the Nos. 3 9 and 8 qualifiers respectively, in the first round. The driver of the Wix Filters-sponsored dragster used his driving skills to eliminate Grubnic, 5.007/282.30 to 5.358/270.54, in this pedaling contest.
Both cars lost traction, and both drivers did their best to get hooked up again. Litton, however, went further before losing traction the first time, and that was the advantage from there on.
Litton can return to his Indianapolis base having performed well on his "home track" as this Tennessee-native rebuilds from that January fire that completely destroyed his racing operation.
Litton, who qualified for his first IHRA Top Fuel event in 1996 and was the runner-up, used only two of the four allotted qualifying passes in a cost-saving measure during Friday's and Saturday's trials.
As it turned out, the first pass of 4.745 seconds and 304.60 mph on Friday evening was all Litton needed to put the Wix dragster into the eliminations. He ran on Saturday evening, and his 4.835/279.67 served as a tune-up for Grubnic.
The main goal that Litton didn't come away with was his first victory of 2001, and that could come in about a month when the IHRA tour travels to Grand Bend, Ont., for the second annual Mopar Parts Canadian Nationals from June 1-3.