Bristol: Friday qualifying summary

Bernstein, Pedregon and Johnson lead Friday qualifying at Bristol Dragway. BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Brandon Bernstein led a record-setting day of qualifying Friday at the NHRA Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. Tony Pedregon and...

Bernstein, Pedregon and Johnson lead Friday qualifying at Bristol Dragway.

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Brandon Bernstein led a record-setting day of qualifying Friday at the NHRA Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Tony Pedregon and Warren Johnson also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the $1.2 million race, the sixth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Bernstein posted a track record performance of 4.530 seconds at 328.22 mph in the Budweiser dragster to lead Top Fuel qualifying.

"That was an awesome run," said rookie Bernstein, who is in position to earn his first No. 1 qualifying award of his career. "The front wheels were up and it carried the front end out there quite a bit. I knew it was on a great run. Depending on what kind of weather we get tomorrow we'll see if the run holds up. There's a lot of really good cars out there, so we'll see what happens."

Larry Dixon was second, clocking a 4.532 at 323.74 in the Miller Lite dragster. Doug Kalitta, top qualifier in the first five events of the season, was third with a 4.564 at 289.94 in the Mac Tools dragster.

Pedregon continued to set the early-season pace in Funny Car, driving his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to a track record run of 4.765 at 322.81.

"Last year we were the low qualifier but we got beat in the first round by Gary Densham, so we want to change that this year," said Pedregon, category points leader and winner of the last two events. "If we can stay at the top we can keep a couple of extra points and that is always good for us, but what matters most is going rounds on Sunday."

Densham was second in his Auto Club Mustang with a 4.838 at 313.07, while Ron Capps, the 2001 winner here, was third with a 4.852 at 308.71 in the Skoal Chevy Camaro. John Force, who has never won at Bristol Dragway and is trying to break out of his worst slump since the 1980s, was fourth in his Castrol GTX Mustang, clocking a 4.857 at 309.98.

Defending event winner Johnson drove his GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am to the top of the Pro Stock order with a 6.894 at 200.14.

"Even though we won the race last year I don't think our notes on the track are any better than any of the other teams out here," Johnson said. "If the weather holds like it was today, I think we can expect better performance on Saturday. If it is clear and sunny, I think it is going to be a whole new ballgame."

Greg Anderson was second in a Grand Am, posting a 6.897 at 200.35, while points leader Kurt Johnson, winner of the last two events, was third in the ACDelco Chevy Cavalier at 6.912 at 200.44.

Qualifying continues Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham , Brandon Bernstein