Sonoma: Friday qualifying summary

Bernstein, Force, Coughlin and Hines lead qualifying Friday at Infineon Raceway. SONOMA, Calif. -- Defending Top Fuel winner Kenny Bernstein christened the newly renovated drag strip at Infineon Raceway by leading qualifying Friday at the ...

Bernstein, Force, Coughlin and Hines lead qualifying Friday at Infineon Raceway.

SONOMA, Calif. -- Defending Top Fuel winner Kenny Bernstein christened the newly renovated drag strip at Infineon Raceway by leading qualifying Friday at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals.

John Force, Jeg Coughlin and Matt Hines also were the top qualifiers in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the 15th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Bernstein drove his Budweiser King dragster to a leading run of 4.610 seconds at 318.47 mph.

"The track looks pretty good," Bernstein said. "The track was really smooth. It's a beautiful track and the folks here have done the job and they're not done yet. The conditions were really good out there tonight. I thought we would all go a little better, but the crew chiefs probably were a little conservative because we haven't seen conditions this good in quite a while."

Three-time Infineon Raceway Top Fuel winner Doug Kalitta was second with a 4.615 at 314.75 in the Mac Tools dragster. Rhonda Hartman-Smith qualified third with a 4.630 at 306.74 in the FRAM dragster.

Force powered to the top spot in Funny Car, driving his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to a 4.898 at 309.20. Force, a five-time winner at this facility, praised the new quarter-mile surface.

"It's not the same place here at Infineon," Force said. "It makes you feel like you are in Las Vegas or Chicago. Tracks like these are what make you go to the next level. The track is killer to half-track, but it's a little green after the eighth-mile. This is gonna be a killer race track."

Defending Funny Car winner Del Worsham was a close second in the lineup, covering the distance in 4.899 at 306.40 in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird. Whit Bazemore, the '99 winner here, recorded a 4.910 at 307.02 in his Matco Tools Firebird to anchor the third position in the 16-car field.

Coughlin was quickest in Pro Stock, clocking a track record performance of 6.802 at 201.37 in his Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier, continuing his team's impressive performance in recent events.

"Last year we qualified number one here, so we're really pleased with the effort," said Coughlin, who has never won at Infineon. "Coming off the win in Seattle we have some momentum going, so hopefully that will play out again. The entire program from the engine to the chassis is working out really well for us."

POWERade points leader Jim Yates was second with a 6.811 at 201.46 in his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am, while Allen Johnson drove his Dodge Neon to a track record speed of 202.09.

Hines paced the order in Pro Stock Motorcycle, covering the distance in 7.183 at 186.43 on his Eagle One Suzuki.

"It feels great to come to Sonoma and be number one," Hines said. "We were trying a new clutch setup on the first run and we got a tuneup and adjusted for the second pass."

Craig Treble set a track speed record on his Matco Tools Suzuki at 187.50, good enough for the second position with a 7.193 elapsed time.

Qualifying continues Saturday at 11:15 a.m.

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Kenny Bernstein , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Craig Treble , Allen Johnson