BERNSTEIN WINS FOR SECOND TIME IN THREE EVENTS Medlen wins in Funny Car; Kurt Johnson wins in Pro Stock KENT, Wash. -- Brandon Bernstein sped past POWERade Series points leader Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel final at the 18th annual ...
BERNSTEIN WINS FOR SECOND TIME IN THREE EVENTS
Medlen wins in Funny Car; Kurt Johnson wins in Pro Stock
KENT, Wash. -- Brandon Bernstein sped past POWERade Series points leader Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel final at the 18th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals Sunday at Pacific Raceways to win for the second time in the last three NHRA events.
Schumacher's U.S. Army dragster was no match for the Budweiser dragster piloted by Bernstein, who improved to 8-1 in championship races with a 4.527-second pass at 329.99 mph, while Schumacher's ride lost traction early and rolled to the finish line in 6.021 at 154.35. Bernstein's second victory of the season comes after he had been mired in a 26-race winless streak (that ended two events ago at St. Louis).
"Our final-round record is pretty stellar," Bernstein said. "It seems like once we get (to the final round) our team is already clicking and we take care of business. "(Schumacher's team) with (crew chief) Alan Johnson is very good and we know what they're capable of. We had to run a good lap and I'm really impressed with what our guys were able to give me."
Eric Medlen (Funny Car) and Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock) also won their respective categories at the $1.4 million race, the 14th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Medlen (4.887 at 310.48) narrowly defeated teammate and POWERade Series points leader Robert Hight (4.933 at 305.63) in an all-Team Force final, the 24th time Force-owned cars filled the final round but the first time that neither competitor was John Force.
"Hopefully this doesn't stop here," said Medlen, who drives the Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang. "(John) Force has won four (races) in a row before and we'll try to do that. We're still trying to come back from a not-so-good first half and this was a good start. We finally have all the cars running the same and it showed this weekend. My dad (crew chief John Medlen) and all the rest of the guys are working so hard."
Hight, who drives the Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang, extended his points lead over Force, who was eliminated in the first round for the seventh time in 2005, to 84 points (989 for Hight to 905 for Force). Medlen moved up to sixth place with 774 points.
"Beating Robert in the final is a big deal. He's done a fabulous job all year," Medlen said. "He's way ahead of where I was at this point one year ago. Plus, his car is awesome. John took a big chance when he chose both of us, so to give him a day like this is something that's really exciting to me."
Johnson won the Pro Stock event title in an uncontested final after the other semifinal winner, Ron Krisher, could not make it to the final round following a spectacular crash in his semifinal victory over Jeg Coughlin. Johnson earned the victory after he staged his car in the final and following the green light, he cruised down the quarter-mile track in 16.320 seconds at a top speed of 75.14 mph following Krisher's fiery wreck in the semifinals.
"It sucks to win like that," Johnson said. "It was weird to go down the track and shut off early and just coast in quiet like that, but that's the way it went down. It feels like I only did three-quarters of my job today."
Krisher narrowly defeated Jeg Coughlin in their semifinal matchup and just moments after crossing the finish line his car went out of control, turned hard left and came in contact with the retaining wall which resulted in a fire that eventually engulfed his Valvoline Racing Chevy Cobalt. Krisher was unharmed save for a minor burn on his left hand, but Krisher had no vehicle to run Johnson in what would have been an all-Cobalt final round.
"(PRO president) Kenny Bernstein came over and told dad I had to stage and take the light to win," Johnson said. "(NHRA Technical director) Ray Alley told us the same thing at the scales so we just got out of the way up there in the final. I didn't want to mess up the track for the guys behind us. A win is a win. I've had plenty of tough losses so I'll take this one, take the points, and move on to Sonoma (Calif.)."
Johnson (955) moved into fourth place in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock standings and his father Warren (1,063) extended his lead in the standings to 29 points over first-round losers Greg Anderson (1,034) and Jason Line (998).