Bristol: Sunday final summary

Bernstein, Worsham, Johnson score victories at NHRA Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals. BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Brandon Bernstein earned his third victory of the season and moved into the Top Fuel points lead for the first time in his career Sunday...

Bernstein, Worsham, Johnson score victories at NHRA Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals.

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Brandon Bernstein earned his third victory of the season and moved into the Top Fuel points lead for the first time in his career Sunday at the Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Del Worsham and Kurt Johnson also were winners in their categories of the $1.2 million race, the sixth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

The rookie sensation, who displayed the skill of a veteran in earning early round wins in an ill-handling dragster, saved his best run of the day for last and clocked a 4.625 second run at 320.13 mph to hold off Doug Herbert, who posted a 4.880 at 282.72 in his Snap-on Tools dragster.

"Having a day like today really shows what kind of team we have," said Bernstein, who had to get on and off the throttle of his Budweiser dragster to gain traction and post round wins over Josh Starcher, Cory McClenathan and Darrell Russell. "Everyone on the team did an awesome job today. It feels really good right now, but we know (Larry Dixon) will be right there all season. Tim (Richards, crew chief) told me before the final that he was going to try something new and it went right on down the track. It was a really smooth run. I feel extremely lucky right now and I hope we don't use up all our luck at once."

With the victory, Bernstein leads Dixon by 21 points. Dixon, who advanced to the second round in his back-up car following a spectacular crash in qualifying on Saturday night, had led the points for 28 consecutive races, an NHRA Top Fuel record.

Worsham claimed his first Funny Car victory of the season and 12th of his career by defeating defending event winner Whit Bazemore. Worsham powered to a 4.924 at 310.41 in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird, while Bazemore's Matco Tools Dodge Stratus R/T lost traction at the start and limped to the finish in 6.500 at 194.35.

"I had a great race car today -- not any different than the one I had two weeks ago in Houston," said Worsham, who defeated Ron Capps, John Force and Johnny Gray to advance to the final. "My dad (crew chief Chuck) and the guys were smart enough not to change too much. I didn't do anything stupid and at the end of the day I am standing here in the winner's circle and that's how it is supposed to work."

With the victory, Worsham moved into third place in the point standings, 101 behind leader Tony Pedregon, while runner-up Bazemore moved to second in the order.

"I felt like we had to win today to stay in the points race," Worsham said. "Tony Pedregon has been so strong this year and you certainly feel like you can't give away the races that you feel like you have a good chance of winning and this was certainly one of those for us."

Johnson claimed his third Pro Stock victory of the season and 26th of his career by defeating Mike Edwards. Johnson covered the distance in 6.899 at 200.92 in his ACDelco Chevy Cavalier to edge Edwards at the finish, who posted a 6.925 at 199.37 in his Young Life Cavalier.

"I've never been on a run like this before," said Johnson of his fourth straight final round appearance. "The car is flawless, but it takes a great team to make it that way. We've had a little bit of luck out there, but we're also making the right calls at the right time."

Johnson, who defeated Barry Grant, Bruce Allen and his father Warren, increased his points lead to 95 over second place Greg Anderson.

"Every run out there today was like a final," Johnson said. "It's just so brutal out there."

The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac, May 1-4 at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Greg Anderson , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Brandon Bernstein , Barry Grant , Johnny Gray , Josh Starcher , Mike Edwards