Post Race Notes: Third Annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals Oct. 23-26, The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas TOP FUEL * Kenny Bernstein, from Lake Forest, Calif., won for the third time this season and the 68th time of his...
Post Race Notes: Third Annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals Oct. 23-26, The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
* Kenny Bernstein, from Lake Forest, Calif., won for the third time this season and the 68th time of his career since returning to the cockpit of the famed Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster for his injured son Brandon. The elder Bernstein covered the quarter-mile in 4.545 seconds at 326.87 mph to defeat top qualifier Tony Schumacher and the U.S. Army dragster, which lost traction and coasted through the lights in 5.436 at 174.68. It was Bernstein's third win in the last four events.
* Schumacher earned his third consecutive No. 1 qualifying position and the fourth of 2003 in the U.S. Army dragster. Schumacher's eighth career top qualifying effort came when he sped down the track in an event-best time and speed of 4.503 at 331.45.
* Current NHRA POWERade champion Larry Dixon, who clinched his second consecutive series crown at Dallas, was eliminated in the first round by Clay Millican. It is Dixon's only first round loss of the 2003 season, his last coming at the 2002 season-finale at Pomona, Calif. K. Bernstein, who returned to Top Fuel action at Topeka, Kan., the ninth event of the season, has made a move in the standings as of late. Over the last four events, K. Bernstein has moved into the top 10 and is currently seventh in the standings, 78 points out of fifth.
* Doug Kalitta and Larry Dixon earned the exact amount of qualifying points throughout the past 23 national events, but Kalitta comes out on top using the Budweiser Shootout tie-breaker method. The 19th annual Budweiser Shootout will be held in two weeks during the Automobile Club of Southern California Finals in two weeks at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway. The two Top Fuel drivers earned 3,580 points throughout the last 23 nationals events. The winner was declared by averaging the top 10 E.T.'s for each driver. Kalitta and the Mac Tools team had a 4.498-second average to Dixon and the Miller Lite's 4.533. Dixon is the two-time defending winner of the bonus program that pays $100,000 to the winner. Dixon has three Budweiser Shootout wins in four final rounds. Kalitta has one win in three finals rounds. This will be the fifth appearance for Kalitta and ninth for Dixon.
* Tony Pedregon, from Chino Hills, Calif., defeated rival Whit Bazemore in the final round which not only earned him his eighth victory of the season, but clinched the 2003 NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship in dramatic fashion. In what can be described as a tire-smoke-filled final round, Pedregon was able to regain enough control of his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang and cover the distance in 5.135 seconds at 273.39 seconds, to beat Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Dodge Stratus, which took the lead early before losing traction near the end of the race track, recording a pass of 5.183 at 266.64. just behind the winning Pedregon.
* Pedregon secured his seventh No. 1 qualifying position of the season and the 24th of his career when he shut the clocks off in 4.753 at 322.88.
* Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon was transported to University Medical Center for evaluation after his Advance Auto Parts Pontiac Firebird suffered an engine explosion during the third round of qualifying and went out of control, impacting the safety retaining wall. Dr. Dale Carrison said Pedregon was awake, alert and got out of the car himself. He was evaluated on site but transported for precautionary reasons. Pedregon failed to qualify for eliminations.
* Arnie Karp, driver of the Artisan Home Entertainment: Terminator 2 Pontiac Firebird, retired from driving following a near-miss accident at the top end of the race track during qualifying. Karp's Pontiac went out of control, crossing into the other lane, almost coming in contact with the Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac driven by Karp's teammate Del Worsham. Karp was making his return to competition following a leg injury he suffered earlier in the season in a non-racing related incident. Cory Lee will drive Karp's Pontiac at the 2003 season-finale at Pomona, Calif.
* Greg Anderson, already the 2003 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion, tied the single-season Pro Stock win mark by earning his 11th victory of the year, defeating Kurt Johnson in the final round. Anderson steered his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to the win in a track record time of 6.837 seconds at a track record-tying speed of 200.73 mph, well ahead of the slower Johnson, who recorded a pass of 6.878 at 200.56 in the ACDelco Chevy Cavalier. With a victory at the 2003 season finale, Anderson would break Darrell Alderman's win mark of 11, established in 1991. It was Anderson's 13th final round of the season, one short of tying the record of 14 set by Jeg Coughlin (2000) and Alderman (1991).
* Anderson also earned his 13th No. 1 qualifying position when he shut the clocks off at 6.866 at 200.44 for top honors.
* By winning the event at Las Vegas, Anderson has now won 63 rounds of eliminations in 2003, a record for the most elimination rounds won in a single season in the Pro Stock category. Jeg Coughlin won 62 rounds during the 2000 season. The total rounds Anderson has won is second overall to Funny Car driver John Force, who won 65 elimination rounds in 1996 (19 events). Anderson can establish a record by advancing to the semifinals at the season-finale at Pomona, Calif. He has advanced to at least the semifinals at the last nine consecutive events.
* Jason Line earned a $1,000 bonus by winning the Motel 6 'Who Got The Light' award when he edged Mike Edwards by 0.0036 of-a-second margin of victory in the first round of Pro Stock eliminations.
* Only two drivers, Anderson and Jeg Coughlin, have qualified for every event this season.
* Notable DNQ's: Warren Johnson, George Marnell, Alderman, Allen Johnson, Mark Pawuk and Scott Geoffrion.
PRO STOCK BIKE
* Craig Treble, from Chandler, Ariz., won his first event of the season and the sixth of his career atop his Matco Tools Suzuki, defeating three-time series champion Angelle Savoie on the U.S. Army Suzuki. Treble, rode down the track in 7.178 seconds at 185.33 mph, ahead of Savoie, who recorded a performance of 7.230 at 188.78.
* Treble notched his second No. 1 qualifying spot of the season and of his career, leading the 16-bike field with a pass of 7.246 at 186.61.
* Geno Scali, the current leader of the POWERade point standings, was eliminated in the second round when he left the starting line early against Mike Berry. Coupled with Savoie's runner up finish, Scali leads the standings by 117 points with one event remaining. In order for Savoie to win the title, she would have to win the event and establish a national record for elapsed time, while Scali posted a DNQ.