Bernstein, Pedregon and Krisher lead qualifying at O'Reilly Fall Nationals. ENNIS, Texas - Kenny Bernstein is looking to make his final race outside of Dallas worth his while. The Texas native took a good first step on Friday, earning the ...
Bernstein, Pedregon and Krisher lead qualifying at O'Reilly Fall Nationals.
ENNIS, Texas - Kenny Bernstein is looking to make his final race outside of Dallas worth his while. The Texas native took a good first step on Friday, earning the provisional No. 1 qualifying position at the 17th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at the Texas Motorplex.
Bernstein has yet to win a Top Fuel event at his home track, and has picked up just one victory in the Funny Car class. He drove his Budweiser King Dragster to a 4.612-second run at 322.69 mph to pace the category. Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at noon and 3 p.m.
Tony Pedregon and Ron Krisher led their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the 21st of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
The track opened in 1986 and Bernstein has earned one Funny Car victory and three No. 1 qualifying spots. If the time remains the quickest, it will be his fifth top qualifier of the season, and 66th of his career.
After the first session of the day, Bernstein was not qualified for the 16-car field that will race on Sunday. Surprisingly, his conservative run in he second session was good enough for the top spot.
"In all honesty, I never thought the 61 was going to hold. Sometimes it happens," Bernstein said. "I was really surprised. That's what we had to do, get in the show. Tim (Richards, crew chief) made a great call and did the right thing by making the car run in the 60s. Tomorrow is going to be hot and sunny, so we needed to make a good run (Friday night) that would put us well in the show."
Pedregon is looking to continue his recent hot streak. Pedregon has won the last three races and is closing in on points leader John Force. With six wins overall this season, Pedregon has moved up the point standings and is only 18 points away from Force - less than one round of racing.
Looking to make it four consecutive victories, Pedregon topped the Funny Car class with a 4.789 at 323.50 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang. If he can hang on to the top spot, it will be his seventh No. 1 qualifier of the season.
"There were 4.70 conditions out there," Pedregon said. "The first session threw us off because it was just one of those sessions. I was beginning to think the track was a little suspect. Tonight the first car went out there and ran a 4.89 and everybody just followed with quicker times. When the conditions are good, this track really produces some good results. I noticed (crew chief, John) Medlen keep reading the conditions and making a few changes as the other teams continued to improve."
The Texas Motorplex may be the only all-concrete quarter-mile on the NHRA schedule, but it is also known to have a narrow groove. Knowing he is trying to catch up to an 11-time champion helped Pedregon stay in the middle of his lane.
"I just picked out a spot and drove the car to it," Pedregon said. "The track has a really narrow groove, and I just tried to keep the car in it. It felt like it was really moving around, but the crew said the car was going straight. I told them I was working hard to make it go straight. It felt like I was doing a lot of driving to keep it in the groove. The one thing I am keeping in mind is what John is capable of. It is one thing to catch him and another thing to pass him. I am glad Medlen is staying aggressive. We are going to work for it instead of letting it come to us."
Krisher went 6.850 at 201.88 in his Eagle One Chevy Cavalier to lead the Pro Stock category. Krisher has seven top qualifiers going into this race.
"Some good air came around and there was two-hundredths in the track this evening that wasn't there (during the early session)," Krisher said. "The car got out of the groove and it rattled a little bit on that run. It wasn't perfect. We left a little bit out there. I had a good 60-foot time, but then (the car) went left. I tried to get it back over, but I couldn't find the groove. The thing that saved the run is that the NHRA has done a good job with the track prep by putting enough VHT (traction compound) down and fortunately the car stuck."
Krisher has one victory this season and is looking to double that this weekend. He also has the longest current qualifying streak in the Pro Stock ranks. He has been in the top 16 on Sunday during the last 67 races. He wants to make it 68.
"We got a little lost in Chicago (the previous national event) and the car wasn't producing any top-end speed," Krisher said. "The car is fixed and now the speed is back. Continuing this qualifying streak is very important to me. This will be three years straight if we can keep it going. I would be devastated if we didn't qualify. I think we're as fast as anybody out here in good air."