Englishtown Saturday summary

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Jim Yates claimed $50,000 for winning the Holley Pro Stock Dominator Duel Saturday at the Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions and Kenny Bernstein continued to be the qualifying King in Top Fuel. Tony ...

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Jim Yates claimed $50,000 for winning the Holley Pro Stock Dominator Duel Saturday at the Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions and Kenny Bernstein continued to be the qualifying King in Top Fuel.

Tony Pedregon, Mark Pawuk and Antron Brown also were top qualifiers in their respective categories and will lead the action heading into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations for the $2 million race, the eighth of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Yates drove his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am to the win at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in the lucrative bonus event for qualified Pro Stock entries for the second time in his career, outrunning Pawuk in the final. Yates' machine covered the quarter-mile in 6.899 seconds at 200.41 mph, edging Pawuk's Summit Racing Grand Am at the finish line, which was just off the pace at 6.911 at 199.88.

"We're on a heck of a roll right now," said Yates, who currently leads the Winston point standings with one win in three final appearances. "The car has been running consistent. The team has matured so much. We've got it together now and it's making me a better driver with a lot more confidence. We're really relaxed and focused. We're ready for tomorrow. We've got a good book on this track with three runs under our belt in raceday conditions."

Should Yates win tomorrow's eliminations, he will earn a $25,000 double-up bonus from the NHRA.

Bernstein logged his fourth consecutive No. 1 qualifying position of the season and the 56th of his career, taking the top spot in Top Fuel with a 4.561 at 323.27. It is the most consecutive No. 1 efforts for Bernstein in his Top Fuel career. During his Funny Car career he earned five straight No. 1 positions on three separate occasions. Bernstein, 56, who recently hired crew chief Tim Richards to head his Budweiser King Racing team, has re-emerged as a top contender for the Top Fuel crown as he nears retirement.

"This has been a good season so far but it's not quite the same as our Funny Car days," said Bernstein, who won four consecutive Funny Car championships in the mid-1980s, and is the only driver in NHRA history to win titles in both nitro categories. "We were well ahead of the field back then. There's a lot of good race cars out there right now (in Top Fuel) and it's a lot of fun to be in contention for the Winston championship again."

Pedregon scored his third No. 1 effort at Old Bridge Raceway Park and the 10th of his career in Funny Car with a 4.801 at 317.49 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang, after NHRA officials disallowed Whit Bazemore's leading run (4.787) from Friday.

"We ran 4.82 and came back and ran 4.80, so that's something to work with," said Pedregon, whose last No. 1 came at Memphis in '99. "I'm going to enjoy low e.t., but you really lose the effect if you get beat in the first round. We've done that too much this year. It's time for us to get this car to race again."

It was determined that debris on the racing surface falsely triggered the 60-foot marker on the electronic timing system which resulted in off-set times throughout Bazemore's run. Bazemore sits 14th in the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history with a 4.929 at 307.37 and will face Dean Skuza in the first round.

Pawuk earned his fourth career No. 1 position in Pro Stock with a career-best 6.832 at 200.17 in his Summit Racing Grand Am.

Brown claimed his third No. 1 effort of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, speeding to a 7.173 at 187.03 on his Team 23 Suzuki.

NHRA PIT NOTES: * BAZEMORE RUN DISALLOWED: After careful evaluation of the incremental numbers posted during Whit Bazemore's second round qualifying attempt, NHRA officials have determined the 60-foot time (.821) logged by the car was not reflective of the typical 60-foot performance for the Funny Car category and the run was not allowed. Apparently debris, smoke or some other foreign object triggered the 60-foot marker on the electronic timing system during the pass which resulted in off-set times throughout the run. According to NHRA rules, Bazemore will not get a make-up attempt. In the revised qualifying order, Bazemore is now 12th (4.929 seconds, 307.37 mph) in the order entering today's third round of qualifying.

Graham Light, NHRA senior vice president of racing operations: "Our timing equipment is the most sophisticated in motorsports, and we run thousands of cars downtrack each race weekend without an instance like this. After studying the data logged during the run, especially the 60-foot incremental time, we have determined that the numbers simply don't add up. It is unfortunate for Whit, Lee Beard and his crew, Don Schumacher Racing and Matco Tools, but we owe it to the rest of the competitors to maintain a fair playing field."

Ray Alley, NHRA director of Top Fuel and Funny Car racing: "We analyzed the raw data logged by the car's on-board computer during the run and there's no question that the car's performance was outstanding on that attempt, and could have been better than the team's previous best, which was a 4.835 at Phoenix earlier this season. It is a very unfortunate situation."


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Kenny Bernstein , Mark Pawuk , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , Tim Richards , Don Schumacher