KENT, Wash.- Every year drivers strive to make the most of their seasons. They look for victories at each of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events and if they some how etch their names in the record books along the way, that is just an added...
KENT, Wash.- Every year drivers strive to make the most of their seasons. They look for victories at each of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events and if they some how etch their names in the record books along the way, that is just an added bonus.
In the first 15 years of NHRA competition at Pacific Raceways, Ron Capps is the only driver to win in both the Funny Car and Top Fuel categories. Capps earned his first career victory at the Seattle event in 1995 in a Top Fuel dragster before making the move to Funny Car in 1997. Capps took the Funny Car victory at Seattle in 1998 and was runner-up in 2001.
Capps could have company in the elite club after the 16th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, July 25-27, at Pacific Raceways. Darrell Russell, Tony Pedregon and Jeg Coughlin are the defending winners of the $1.8 million race. It is the 14th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Kenny Bernstein (Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Skoal Racing Chevy Camaro) and Gary Scelzi (Oakley Dodge Stratus) can join Capps as the only drivers to win both nitro categories at Pacific Raceways.
Bernstein won the event as a Funny Car driver in 1988, Johnson won the Top Fuel race in 1993 and Scelzi won back-to-back Top Fuel titles in 2000-'01.
"Seattle is a good place to race and I look forward to being in that area because I have a pretty good record at that track," Scelzi said. "That part of the country is one of the most beautifully scenic places we go to throughout the season. It can be one of the more difficult tracks to race on, but I am just looking forward to the challenge."
Scelzi said he is looking forward to joining Capps as a duel-category winner at the CARQUEST Nationals.
"I think it would be great to get a Funny Car win there," Scelzi said. "But I also try not to put a lot of emphasis on one particular track. I want to win at every track, no matter what."
Bernstein wasn't scheduled to even make an attempt at winning both nitro categories at Pacific Raceways. At the end of the 2002 season, Bernstein retired, passing the driving duties on to his son, Brandon. During the first round of eliminations at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park (Englishtown, N.J.) in May, that all changed. Brandon Bernstein was involved in an accident, forcing him to sit out for the remainder of the season with a back injury.
Kenny Bernstein took over driving duties the following week. Bernstein has been the Top Fuel runner-up at Seattle for the last two seasons, and is looking to make it to the final round once again. Only this time, Bernstein is looking to walk away with the winner's trophy.
"We have been so close to winning these past two years, it would seem that we need just a little nudge to get across the finish line first," Bernstein said.
Three of the four drivers, Capps, Johnson and Bernstein, are already part of an exclusive club in NHRA racing history. They are three of only 12 drivers in the history of the sport to win in both nitro categories. If Scelzi can win in Seattle in 2003, he can have the trophy and two records.
"Our team is learning how to work together and make this Oakley Dodge Stratus race down the track more consistently," Scelzi said. "We know we have the power, that's why we have gone 328 mph already this season. We just have to harness it and make it more consistent. I want this team to win a race, no matter where we are. If it is at Seattle and we can do something that only one driver has done so far, that would just make it even better."