Las Vegas: Pre-race notes and quotes

NHRA notes and quotes Third annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 4-7, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway * In 2001 Kenny Bernstein and his son Brandon became the first father-son duo to win at an NHRA national event on the same ...

NHRA notes and quotes

Third annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 4-7, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

* In 2001 Kenny Bernstein and his son Brandon became the first father-son duo to win at an NHRA national event on the same weekend. The elder Bernstein defeated Andrew Cowin for the Top Fuel victory while Brandon drove past Mark Hentges for the Top Alcohol Dragster victory.

"There are two achievements that stand above all the rest in the past 23 years," said the 57-year-old Bernstein. "I like to call them 1a and 1b. The first is breaking the 300 miles-per-hour barrier in Gainesville (Fla.) in 1992, and the second was sharing victory circle last year in Las Vegas with my son Brandon. To add a little more foam to a great Bud day, my father happened to be at the race, so three generations of Bernsteins celebrated that day."

At the 2002 SummitRacing.com Nationals a similar scenario is possible with a slight gender variation.

Defending NHRA POWERade Funny Car champion John Force will be making his familiar appearance in the Funny Car field, while his 18-year-old daughter Ashley is tentatively scheduled to compete in her first NHRA national event behind the wheel of a Super Comp dragster. Ashley competed in the divisional event held in Phoenix and, assuming she races at Tucson, Ariz. The week prior to the Las Vegas race, she will earn the right to race at The Strip for the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals.

* Top Fuel standout Larry Dixon and Funny Car icon Force will be bringing the King of Rock and Roll back to Las Vegas. Both Dixon and Force will have their respective vehicles adorned with the likeness of Elvis Presley as part of the Elvis Presley 25th Anniversary program.

Force, already with one of his Funny Cars on display in the museum at Graceland, is an avid fan and collector of Presley memorabilia and has been known to tape a picture of Presley to the dashboard of his race car. One of his most memorable accidents happened in Memphis, Tenn., when Force's Funny Car lost control and slid down the track on its roof before becoming engulfed in flames and sliding to a stop in the sand trap at the end of the track. Following the incident Force was quoted as saying that while the car was upside down careening down the quarter-mile, he 'saw Elvis at 1000 feet,' referring to the distance marker on the drag strip.

* Jeg Coughlin Jr., the 2000 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion, has been unbeatable at the SummitRacing.com Nationals. The Columbus, Ohio, driver has visited the winner's circle on both occasions at the spring event going 8-0 during elimination rounds. Coughlin needs the momentum to continue after his runner-up finish at Gainesville, Fla., which followed a DNQ (did not qualify) and a first round loss to open the season.

"Our team has had a lot of success at high altitude tracks and coming to a first class facility brings the excitement level higher for everyone on Team Jeg's," said Coughlin. "Our program has gained some positive momentum lately and we have been a competitive threat on race day. There are 20 to 25 Pro Stock cars at each event that our capable of winning. You have to be consistent and limit mistakes if you are going to win. Our races are won and lost by thousandths of a second and there is no room for error."

* 2001 NHRA Rookie of the Year Darrell Russell seems to be experiencing what is commonly referred to as a sophomore slump. Last year Russell became the third driver in NHRA history to win his professional debut and finished the season sixth in the standings. After three events this year the Hockley, Texas driver has three first round losses and has not qualified higher than the No. 12 spot.

"We'll be up to speed soon, I'm convinced of that," said the 33-year-old Russell. "We have an extensive test session scheduled before the race in Las Vegas and I'm optimistic that we'll find and fix our problems before then. We won at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway late last year so we have to keep our lucky streak alive there."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , John Force , Andrew Cowin