Phoenix: Post-race notes

Post Race Notes: 20th Annual Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals Presented By Castrol Syntec March 5-7, Firebird International Raceway, Chandler, Ariz. TOP FUEL * Brandon Bernstein, from Lake Forest, Calif., recorded his second consecutive...

Post Race Notes:
20th Annual Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals Presented By Castrol Syntec
March 5-7, Firebird International Raceway, Chandler, Ariz.


* Brandon Bernstein, from Lake Forest, Calif., recorded his second consecutive victory at FIR and his first since returning to the seat of the Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster following the season-ending injury he suffered at Englishtown, N.J. in May 2003. Bernstein, who is undefeated in final round competition (4-0), steered his dragster to the finish line in 4.537 seconds at 326.63 mph to outrun Doug Kalitta's Mac Tools dragster, which slowed to a pass of 5.837 at 184.85. It was Kalitta's second straight runner-up finish.

* Bernstein has competed in Top Fuel at 10 NHRA national events and has four victories, a 23-6 record in elimination rounds, two No. 1 qualifying positions, and led the POWERade point standings following his victory at Bristol, Tenn., last season.

* David Grubnic earned his second career No. 1 qualifying position and his first top spot since becoming the driver of the Connie Kalitta-owned Kalitta Air dragster. Grubnic, a native Australian and the top qualifier at Memphis, Tenn. in 1999, established a track record for elapsed time when he covered the distance in 4.486 at 324.51, setting him atop the 16-car qualifying order.

* Bernstein's victory moved him into sole possession of third place in the NHRA POWERade point standings, four points behind second-place Kalitta and six points behind current leader Tony Schumacher.

* Defending NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite team are off to a slow start compared to the last two seasons. Dixon has a 2-2 record in eliminations and is currently No. 8 in the POWERade standings. It is his lowest position in the standings since 1999, when he ended the season in the No. 8 spot. Dixon qualified at FIR in the No. 13 position, his lowest qualifying position since the 1999 Auto Club Finals at Pomona, Calif., where he qualified No. 14. (Dixon posted a DNQ at St. Louis 2002 and Indianapolis 1999).


* Del Worsham, from Corona Del Mar, Calif., drove his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird to the winner's circle at Phoenix for the second time in the past three seasons at his sponsor's event. Worsham covered the quarter-mile in 4.970 seconds at 303.78 mph to defeat defending NHRA POWERade Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon, who recorded a slower 5.098 run at 251.58 in his Quaker State Chevrolet Camaro.

* Gary Densham piloted the Auto Club Ford Mustang to the top of the Funny Car qualifying order for the seventh time in his career. Densham set both ends of the track record with his pass of 4.773 at 325.77 to lead the field. Densham's No. 1 position gives Force Racing the No. 1 qualifying position at the first two events of the 2004 season. Team owner John Force was the top qualifier at the season-opener.

* Jerry Toliver, who led the POWERade point standings following his victory at the season-opening K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., posted a DNQ at Firebird Raceway in his Schick Quattro Toyota Celica. Toliver dropped from first to fifth in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car point standings.

* Worsham's victory moved him atop the point standings for the first time in his 15-year career, 35 points ahead of Densham and 57 ahead of third place Gary Scelzi.


* Kurt Johnson, from Lawrenceville, Ga., collected his 28th career victory in an all-Chevy Pro Stock final. In the closest race of the event, Johnson's ACDelco Cavalier crossed the finish line just ahead of first-time finalist David Connolly and his Bullet Motorsports Cavalier. Johnson posted a quicker run of 6.835 seconds at 203.49 mph to defeat Connolly and his pass of 6.860 at 202.39. Connolly had the advantage at the starting line, but Johnson made up the difference and the 21-year-old missed out on his first career victory by approximately three inches.

* Johnson earned a $1,000 bonus by earning the Motel 6 'Who Got the Light' award when he defeated Connolly by 0.0008-second in the final round of Pro Stock eliminations.

* Greg Anderson earned his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position and the seventh consecutive top spot dating back to last season. Anderson set both ends of the track record for the second straight event, powering his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am down the drag strip in 6.746 at 204.82. Anderson has been the top qualifier at 16 of the last 25 events, dating back to the 2003 season-opener.

* Anderson, beginning with the 2003 Dallas event, had won four consecutive NHRA national events and 18 consecutive elimination rounds before falling to Johnson in the semifinals.

* Johnson, who chased Anderson last season for the POWERade championship, moved into second place in the standings with his victory. He now trails Anderson by five points. Johnson's father Warren is third, 47 points behind Anderson.


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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , David Grubnic , Gary Densham , Brandon Bernstein , David Connolly , Jerry Toliver , Connie Kalitta