PEDREGON, BERNSTEIN, OSBORNE, HINES WIN 10TH WINSTON INVITATIONAL ROCKINGHAM, NC - SUMMIT FastNews - Cruz Pedregon won the richest event in professional drag racing Sunday when he drove the Interstate Batteries Pontiac to a $110,000 Funny...
PEDREGON, BERNSTEIN, OSBORNE, HINES WIN 10TH WINSTON INVITATIONAL
ROCKINGHAM, NC - SUMMIT FastNews - Cruz Pedregon won the richest event in professional drag racing Sunday when he drove the Interstate Batteries Pontiac to a $110,000 Funny Car victory in the 10th annual Winston Invitational at Rockingham Dragway.
The 34-year-old Californian shared the podium at drag racing's official All-Star event with Kenny Bernstein, who repeated as Top Fuel champion; Mark Osborne, who scored an upset victory for Pontiac in Pro Stock; and Matt Hines, who avenged his 1997 loss to Angelle Seeling in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Pedregon, who boosted his earnings in the last three NHRA events to more than $240,000, beat Ron Capps and the Copenhagen Camaro in a Funny Car final which matched the No. 1 and 2 qualifiers.
The 1992 Winston Funny Car Champion, Pedregon set a track record of 4.884 seconds in claiming the $10,000 VP Racing Fuels qualifying bonus Saturday and then added the $100,000 winner's purse with a final round 4.927 at 312.06 miles per hour.
Bernstein, who until last year's victory had never advanced beyond the first round at Rockingham, earned his second straight $100,000 payday be topping a tractionless Paul Romine in the Top Fuel final, 4.710 seconds to 5.995 seconds.
No. 1 qualifier Gary Scelzi of Fresno, CA, who buried the track record with a qualifying time of 4.585 seconds at 316.45 mph, was also a victim of track problems. The reigning Winston Champion and 1997 Winston Rookie of the Year, slowed to 4.870 seconds at 292.58 mph against No. 8 qualifier Bob Vandergriff Jr., who responded with his quickest effort of the week, 4.647 at 312.39 mph.
In Pro Stock, Warren Johnson's expected walkover to his fifth Winston Invitational title was derailed in round two when Steve Schmidt simply outran the three-time former Winston Champion whose black GM Service Plus Pontiac slowed from the track record 6.888 second quarter mile it produced in qualifying to 6.990 seconds.
Osborne, meanwhile, won for the first time since 1995 by stopping Warren's son, Kurt, in a final round worth $50,000 to the Dick Sherman Racing team. The No. 3 qualifier, Osborne took out second qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the semifinals with a near perfect .401 reaction time coupled to a 7.027 second quarter.
Hines, of Trinidad, Colo., ran the quarter in 7.348 seconds to defeat Seeling's 7.390. The lady had qualified at the head of the class, but Hines set the event's low elapsed time mark in today's semifinal round at 7.282.
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