Topeka: Summer Nationals final summary

PEDREGON, DIXON AND ANDERSON CLAIM VICTORIES AT O'REILLY SUMMER NATIONALS AT HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA TOPEKA, Kan. -- Tony Pedregon raced to his fifth Funny Car victory of the season and third straight at Heartland Park Topeka Sunday at the...


TOPEKA, Kan. -- Tony Pedregon raced to his fifth Funny Car victory of the season and third straight at Heartland Park Topeka Sunday at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX. Larry Dixon and Greg Anderson also were winners in their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the ninth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Pedregon powered his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to a 4.848 second run at 320.66 mph to beat rival Whit Bazemore, whose Matco Tools Dodge Stratus lost traction past mid-track and posted a 5.126 at 252.38. Pedregon defeated Dale Creasy Jr., Gary Scelzi and Cruz Pedregon before eliminating Bazemore in the final. "What an amazing day," said Pedregon of his 24th career victory that increased his points lead to 94 over Bazemore. "It was just an outstanding job by the team. We raced a lot of very tough cars today. To come out on top with the way the competition is these days, it means a lot. Everyone is talking championship, but I realize that we still have a long way to go." Dixon claimed his fourth victory of the season and the 29th of his career in Top Fuel by edging Doug Kalitta at the finish. Dixon posted a 4.534 at 327.82 in his Miller Lite dragster, while Kalitta hazed the tires on his Mac Tools dragster and stopped the clocks at 4.575 at 324.20 mph. It was Dixon's first win at the Kansas quarter-mile after finishing runner-up here the last two seasons. Dixon defeated Chris Karamesines, Paul Romine and Darrell Russell to advance to his 53rd career final round. "The car was perfect today," said Dixon. "It feels good to finally win at Topeka. Just about everybody on my team has won at Topeka, so now I can hang with them and be a part of the club. When the car runs that good it deserves to win. The team worked hard and they deserved to win today. What a great race. I love it when you have a close final and you win." With the victory, Dixon increased his POWERade points lead to 171 over Kalitta, who moved into second place in the points order with the runner-up effort. "They have a great car," Dixon said about Kalitta's Mac Tools team. "You've got to race them hard. They're strong. They had the better car last week and we got them this week. I am sure we'll see them a few more times before the season is over." Kenny Bernstein, who came out of retirement at this event to sub for his injured son Brandon, was eliminated in the semifinals by Kalitta after his Budweiser dragster lost traction past mid-track. "We're disappointed we didn't win the race for Brandon because it would've been a cool storybook ending," said Bernstein, who is expected to be in the car 2-3 months while his son rehabilitates his lower back. "It just wasn't in the cards. We really had a good weekend considering what everyone on this team has been through the past week. We've got more racing to go and our thoughts are with him. We want him to heal and mend and get ready to go so he can come out and enjoy being a part of this again." Anderson claimed his fourth victory of the season and eighth of his career by defeating Kurt Johnson in a close Pro Stock battle. Anderson drove his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to a track record performance of 6.808 at 202.94 to hold off Johnson's ACDelco Chevy Cavalier, which clocked a 6.845 at 202.88. Anderson advanced to the final with victories over V. Gaines, Jeg Coughlin, and Warren Johnson. "What a day," Anderson said. "We beat Warren, Jeg and Kurt all in the same day, so it doesn't get much tougher than that. I can't say enough about my team, they really bailed me out today in the final because Kurt had a great (reaction time). We were struggling with the track early, but kept making adjustments and the car came around in the final when we really needed it. I enjoy racing against Kurt, we're like brothers. It's more of a grudge match with Warren, but Kurt and I have fun out there. It was a fun race, door-handle to door-handle." Anderson increased his points lead to 31 over Kurt and 134 over third place Warren. The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the sixth annual Lucas Oil NHRA Route 66 Nationals, May 29-June 1 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Paul Romine , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Chris Karamesines , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cruz Pedregon