LAS VEGAS - At last season's inaugural SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino listed legendary drag racer Kenny Bernstein as an unfamiliar 10-1 underdog to win the race. After his impressive win at the ...
LAS VEGAS - At last season's inaugural SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino listed legendary drag racer Kenny Bernstein as an unfamiliar 10-1 underdog to win the race. After his impressive win at the state-of-the-art facility's historic race, Bernstein is sure to open with better odds this season. Bernstein, a five-time Winston champion, returns as the defending event winner when he competes in the second annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, April 5-8 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The $1.9 million race is the fifth of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. "The Vegas track is one of the smoothest surfaces we race on," said Bernstein. "We are very excited about coming back to The Strip and we just hope we can repeat." After scoring only one victory in three final rounds last season, Bernstein made some changes on his renowned Bud King Racing team. Co-crew chiefs Lee Beard and Mike Green have been replaced with veteran tuner Tim Richards, and Johnny West was hired as an assistant crew chief. "The entire team has been putting in very long hours ever since Tim came aboard to make sure we could hit the ground running," said the 56-year old Bernstein. "We were very pleased with the progress made at Tim's first event as a crew chief in Gainesville. Tim and Johnny are working very closely together. Hopefully we can go forward and win a championship. It's certainly not too late." Bernstein, from Lake Forest, Calif., has stated that he will retire from the NHRA and turn the driving duties over to his son, Brandon, at the completion of the 2002 season or sooner. The celebrated Bernstein realizes he is up against time, and the competition in the Top Fuel category will not make it easy for him to win a sixth series title. "There are no 'gimme' rounds out there," said Bernstein. "I think this year we may even have a few more very competitive cars capable of winning an event than we've had in the past couple of seasons. You can't afford to lose early in eliminations. It's all about going rounds to chase a Winston championship." Bernstein has been competing on the NHRA circuit since 1978. He has amassed 53 career victories in 93 final round appearances, placing him fourth on the NHRA all-time national event win list. His professional career began behind the wheel of a Funny Car before making the switch to a Top Fuel dragster in 1990 and he is the only driver in NHRA history to win a Winston championship in both categories. He has finished in the top 10 in the Winston standings for 20 straight seasons.
On top of all his accomplishments, one of Bernstein's most memorable achievements acquired him the memorable moniker, 'King of Speed'. In 1992 he became the first driver in NHRA history to eclipse the 300 mph barrier, clocking a speed of 301.70 mph in Gainesville, Fla.