Shields Racing Short Line Express Markets Shields falls to Bernstein in finals KENT, Wash. - Until about the 1000' marker, it looked as if NHRA Federal Mogul Dragster driver Duane Shields was about to win his first national event of the year...
Short Line Express Markets
Shields falls to Bernstein in finals
KENT, Wash. - Until about the 1000' marker, it looked as if NHRA Federal Mogul Dragster driver Duane Shields was about to win his first national event of the year during this weekend's Prolong Northwest Nationals at Seattle International Raceway. Fate would have otherwise, as an engine valve hung open, making his supercharger explode off of his engine, and giving the win to his opponent, Brandon the "Bud Prince" Bernstein [son of Top Fuel driver Kenny Bernstein].
Shields, from Las Vegas, qualified his Short Line Express Markets Blown Alcohol Dragster third with a 5.375 second elapsed time at 263.87 mph. In round one he defeated Michael Cofini with a 5.366 blast at 264.65 mph to set the stage for a rematch of his Woodburn, Ore., Division 6 final against four time defending World Champion, Rick Santos. The race had the same outcome, as Shields took out the champ on a holeshot with a 5.372 at 263.92 mph over Santos' quicker-but-later 5.339 at 262.23 mph. In the semifinals, he put away the No. 2 qualifier and recent Pomona winner Brian Hough with a 5.402 at 263.98 mph, to give him lane choice over Bernstein going into the final.
Shields had the lead in the race up until about the 1000' mark, when he had his blower explosion. Bernstein came around for the win with a 5.412 at 263.31 mph to Shields' coasting 5.503 at 240.04 mph. With the runner-up finish, Shields moved to fifth in national standings.
"The weekend probably had one of the fiercest battlefields as far as what cars we had out there," said Shields. "Every round on Sunday was like running a final round at a national event. We got past Santos in the second round, and of course, when you run Santos, it should be in the finals. Then we had to go against Hough, who had just run a .36. We got past him, and then had Bernstein in the final. It hung a valve open, and popped the blower. I'm happy though, my lights were great all weekend, my driving was good, the car ran great, and we didn't hurt any parts, so we had a great weekend. We didn't get the win in the finals, but we certainly complain."
The racing surface at SIR had been under scrutiny the past few years for being a 'bad' track to run at. Since last years event, measures were taken to improve the racing surface. Shields feels that the improvements helped make it one of the best he has seen this year.
"I think the track was in great condition," stated Shields. "They actually prepared it very well. The lanes were pretty consistent, especially in the Federal Mogul Dragsters. They were real even. The work they did to make the facility better made for some awesome racing."
Next weekend will be the final race of the "Western Swing" of the NHRA tour at the Fram Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., a race that Shields won in '99. Shields and his team hope to carry the momentum from this weekend to another win in Sonoma.
"We have won the Sonoma race before," commented Shields. "We had a good run going last year, but had mechanical problems and lost. We've done well there, so we usually have a pretty good baseline for that track. We're certainly not going to see the same type of cool conditions we saw here this weekend, so we'll have to change our preparation. We're looking forward to going head to head with the same group again."
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