BERNSTEIN, MEDLEN AND CONNOLLY EARN NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT O'REILLY NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Brandon Bernstein claimed the No. 1 qualifying position Saturday in a rain-shortened day of racing at the...
BERNSTEIN, MEDLEN AND CONNOLLY EARN NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT O'REILLY NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Brandon Bernstein claimed the No. 1 qualifying position Saturday in a rain-shortened day of racing at the O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. Due to persistent rain showers Saturday afternoon and a complete washout on Friday, the fields were set with only one qualifying session.
Eric Medlen and Dave Connolly also were top qualifiers in their categories at the $1.5 million race, the sixth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Bernstein earned his seventh career No. 1 qualifying position by clocking a 4.539 second run at 324.83 mph in his Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster to lead the 16-car lineup for Sunday's eliminations, which start at noon.
"That's great for this team," Bernstein said. "We've struggled for the last few races. We stayed in Vegas and tested. It was a great run for these conditions."
Medlen raced to his third career No. 1 position with a 4.806 at 325.22 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang.
Medlen's run, like Bernstein's, came under cloudy, cool conditions with threatening weather on the horizon. Both drivers had to navigate the quarter-mile quickly, but at the same time make the most of their only qualifying pass of the weekend.
"I think the track was maybe a little better than a lot of the guys expected," Medlen said. "The Safety Safari does a tremendous job. Rick Stewart (NHRA chief starter) isn't going to say 'light 'em up' unless it's safe."
Connolly claimed his second No. 1 position by driving his Bullet Motorsports Chevrolet to a 6.814 at 201.25.
"Terry (Adams, crew chief) has a real good handle on the car," Connolly said. "It's been doing whatever he's been putting into it lately. Luckily some cars ran down the track before we did and put some rubber down and that helped us. With the rain, there's only so much we can do out there, but we're pretty happy."
Due to the weather delays, modifications were made to the 16-car starting lineups in Funny Car and Pro Stock. NHRA rules allow for provisional starting spots for the top 10 drivers in the POWERade point standings who are not qualified after only one round of qualifying has been completed. As a result, Ron Capps was inserted into the No. 16 position in Funny Car, and Frank Pedregon was removed. In Pro Stock, Ron Krisher was inserted into the field, while Larry Morgan was bumped.