June 15-17, 2006

Englishtown K&N Filters Supernationals

(SpeedZone's coverage is sponsored by Dave Barcelone's Truck Town Trailer Sales)


A Weekend gallery is here.

(Greg Gage and David Smith photos)

Sunday Eliminations


Smith, Fuller, Capps, and Line
Top Fuel driver Rod Fuller managed to stop Larry Dixon's streak of five consecutive Father's Day victories Sunday by beating Dixon in the final of the $1.8 million K&N Filters NHRA Supernationals.
Fuller's Valvoline rail went straight down a hot and greasy quarter-mile in 4.692 seconds at 314.24 mph to beat Dixon's tire-hazing 4.825 at 299.73 mph. Fuller was joined by Funny Car's Ron Capps, Pro Stock's Jason Line, and Pro Stock Motorcycle's Matt Smith in Old Bridge Township Raceway Park's winner's circle.

"I knew Dixon had that Father's Day thing going but our car was running great all weekend and I knew we had a chance if we stayed within ourselves," Fuller said. "This one's for my dad. He's a racer and he's the reason I love racing. He's my best friend."

Season-long points leader Melanie Troxel's first-round loss to Dixon combined with her 11th-place qualifying effort helped Doug Kalitta trim her lead in the POWERade standings from 71 to 48 points.

The Funny Car final was close as Capps got a big headstart with a .079- to .133-second reaction time advantage only to barely hold off hard-charging reigning champion Gary Scelzi. The final numbers had Capps winning with a 5.025 at 299.46 mph in his Brut Dodge Charger to Scelzi's quicker but losing 5.012 at 301.81 mph in the Oakley machine.

"Beating Gary on a holeshot takes some of the excitement out of this win," Capps said, as he held back tears. "Last year 'Ace' (crew chief Ed McCulloch) got sick the Thursday before the race with his cancer and Scelzi's crew chief Mike Neff jumped in and helped us. Gary is a mentor to me and our teams are together. Our trailers literally connect to one another and I know they wanted that win."

This was Scelzi's first final-round appearance of his title defense. He moved up one slot to seventh in the POWERade Series points. Capps more than doubled his advantage in the standings with this win. After entering the race with a 48-point cushion, he leaves town with a 106-point edge.

With all the pre-final talk focusing on Connolly's lethal performances at the starting line, it was Line coming through with a quick start that began his 6.729-second, 205.98-mph victorious pass. Line's .013-second start got his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO rolling and he carried that momentum to the other end, beating Connolly's 6.739 at 206.45 mph in his Skull Gear Chevy Cobalt.

"I can't believe I won this race as crappy as I've been driving all day," Line said. "This is really something. I don't know what it is about this racetrack but I love it. We won the last two years here before I was a father and now I win my first Father's Day race since my son Jack was born. How cool is that?"

Greg Anderson paid the price for his first-round holeshot loss to nemesis Warren Johnson as his lead in the POWERade rankings was trimmed from 110 to 37 points over Line, his KB Racing teammate.

Smith finally got his first NHRA victory by coming from behind on his G-Squared/Torco Race Fuels Buell and taking care of Karen Stoffer and her Geico Suzuki in the final round. Smith was awarded the victory at last year's U.S. Nationals at the racetrack but officials later reversed the decision when video tape showed he crossed the finish line second. This year, the same thing happened in an earlier round victory.

This one was a clear victory with Smith overcoming terrible.030- to .107-second reaction time deficit by halftrack and taking the win with a 7.111 at 185.38 mph ahead of Stoffer's 7.234 at 186.12 mph.

"The first thing I asked them at the top end was, 'are you guys absolutely sure I've won this race?' " Smith said. "I guess this one was legit. Even Karen came over and said she saw that I was ahead of her at the stripe. It feels like this has been a long time coming, for sure. I'm glad dad (Pro Stock driver Rickie Smith) was down there waiting for me."

Sunday's final results from the 37th annual K&N Filters SuperNationals presented by Strauss Auto at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The $1.8 million race is the 11th of 23 in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series -

Top Fuel -- Rod Fuller, 4.692 seconds, 314.24 mph def. Larry Dixon, 4.825 seconds, 299.73 mph.

Funny Car -- Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 5.025, 299.46 def. Gary Scelzi, Charger, 5.012, 301.81.

Pro Stock -- Jason Line, Pontiac GTO, 6.729, 205.98 def. Dave Connolly, Chevy Cobalt, 6.739, 206.45.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Matt Smith, Buell, 7.111, 185.38 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.234, 186.12.

Top Alcohol Dragster -- Jeff Bohr, broke was unopposed.

Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Frank Manzo, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.691, 255.48 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 5.691, 256.65.

Competition Eliminator -- Sal Biondo, Chevy Beretta, 8.575, 129.24 def. Vinny Barone, Roadster, 8.083, 137.29.

Stock Eliminator -- Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 10.831, 115.12 def. John Shaul, Plymouth Fury, 10.215, 129.28.

Super Comp -- Franklin Di Bartolomeo, Dragster, 8.902, 163.79 def. Jeff Kundratic, Dragster, 8.944, 158.24.

Super Gas -- Regis Lepage, Ghevy S-10, 10.128, 130.51 def. Jeff Szilagyi, Chevy Corvette, broke.

Super Street -- Matt Ticcony, Plymouth Duster, 10.950, 141.59 def. Tom DePascale, Chevy Vega, 10.958, 139.93.

Points Standings

1. Melanie Troxel 872
2. Doug Kalitta 824
3. Brandon Bernstein 717
4. Rod Fuller 651
5. Larry Dixon 635
6. David Grubnic 623
7. Morgan Lucas 560
Tony Schumacher 560
9. Cory McClenathan 547
10. Doug Herbert 487
11. Hillary Will 464
12. David Baca 439
13. Bob Vandergriff 395
14. Clay Millican 357
15. J.R. Todd 240

Funny Car

1. Ron Capps 944
2. John Force 838
3. Robert Hight 684
4. Eric Medlen 638
5. Tony Pedregon 616
6. Tommy Johnson Jr. 608
7. Gary Scelzi 568
8. Whit Bazemore 535
9. Del Worsham 502
10. Cruz Pedregon 498
11. Phil Burkart 489
12. Tony Bartone 405
13. Gary Densham 390
14. Bob Gilbertson 360
15. Jim Head 318

Pro Stock

1. Greg Anderson 763
2. Jason Line 726
3. Jim Yates 672
4. Dave Connolly 657
5. Kurt Johnson 639
6. Mike Edwards 569
7. Erica Enders 560
8. Allen Johnson 506
9. Warren Johnson 503
10. Larry Morgan 498
11. V. Gaines 481
12. Greg Stanfield 471
13. Richie Stevens 465
14. Rickie Smith 428
15. Ron Krisher 386

Pro Stock Motorcycle

1. Angelle Sampey 463
2. Andrew Hines 451
3. Antron Brown 412
4. Karen Stoffer 358
5. Matt Smith 346
6. Chip Ellis 338
Ryan Schnitz 338
8. Matt Guidera 275
9. Tom Bradford 256
10. Geno Scali 255
11. GT Tonglet 250
12. Craig Treble 242
13. Michael Phillips 217
14. Shawn Gann 192
15. Marco Andreano 169

Saturday Final Qualifying


Brandon Bernstein earned his 10th career No. 1 qualifier Saturday and he enters Sunday's final eliminations at the 37th annual K&N Filters Supernationals with plenty of motivation.
His father, NHRA legend Kenny Bernstein, has won a career-high seven races at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, but Brandon has yet to even win a round at the historic track that was the site of the spectacular accident that ended his 2003 Rookie of the Year season.

The other No. 1 qualifiers at the $1.8 million race, the 11th of 23 on the $50 million POWERade tour, were hometown favorite Tony Bartone (Funny Car) of Long Island, Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

The Bud Prince shaved five thousandths of a second off his leading time from Friday night to stay in front of Top Fuel with a 4.534 at 330.72 mph. It is the second No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and the 10th of his career.

"We're going to try to keep this racecar as consistent as it's been all weekend," said Bernstein, who's currently in third place in the POWERade Series points race with 608 points behind Melanie Troxel (748) and Doug Kalitta (652).

"We smoked the tires in Round 1 like everyone else. Then we ran two 4.53s and a 4.57. I'd say Tim (Richards, crew chief) has a good hot weather tune-up, which gives us a lot of confidence going into the races we have ahead of us."

Tony Schumacher went from out-of-the-field to third place in his U.S. Army dragster with a 4.561. Earlier in the day the three-time champ ran a 4.563.

Season-long Top Fuel points leader Melanie Troxel qualified 11th in her Skull Shine/Torco Race Fuels Top Fuel dragster and will open final eliminations against No. 6 qualifier Larry Dixon, who will be seeking his sixth consecutive Father's Day win.

Bartone and team owner Jim Dunn elected not to run their Lucas Oil Monte Carlo in the final qualifying session due to the hot conditions but they still stayed out front with the 4.787 at 324.36 mph Bartone carded Friday evening. The pass remained the only 4.7-second run of the weekend.

"Right now I have goosebumps," Bartone said of the first career No. 1 qualifying effort of his 10-year career (first race, Phoenix 1996). "This is a career highlight for me and it's awesome to do this here at home. I'm a New York boy through and through and this track has been very, very good to me over the years. This is a special moment and it hasn't set in yet."

Funny Car points leader Ron Capps is 14th best with a 4.866 in his Dodge Charger and he will open final eliminations against Jim Head. John Force will open with Whit Bazemore.

Ellis's 6.997-second top-qualifying pass in his Drag Specialities S&S Buell V-Twin was just the fourth six-second Pro Stock Motorcycle pass in history. Of the four six-second Pro Stock Motorcycle runs in the books, Ellis has two, the same number carded by two-time and defending POWERade Series champion Andrew Hines. Now Ellis will try to parlay his third straight No. 1 qualifying effort into his first win of the year.

"We've built 29 engines and we're still using No. 7," Ellis said. "It's one of the older ones but it's still living. I don't know what makes it so good but we're gonna keep running it."

POWERade Series points leader Angelle Sampey has struggled this weekend but she did find a spot for her U.S. Suzuki. Her best of 7.102 at 188.12 mph placed her 14th overall.

After not earning a No. 1 qualifying spot for the first 10 and a half years of his career, Pro Stock leader Johnson has now earned two in the last four races. The Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T driver used a career-best run of 6.645 at 207.43 mph in Round 3 to get the job done. His elapsed time set a track record.

"It's a big deal to lead the quickest field ever," Johnson said. "It means you're one of the best of the best, and there are probably 10-to-12 cars out here that could be considered the best. Dad (Roy Johnson) is doing a great job building these engines and it's gonna be a good Father's Day starting as the No. 1 qualifier. I can't think of anything that would be better than winning the race for him."

Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Local hero Tony Bartone is the surprise leader in Funny Car after the first two of four rounds of qualifying at the 37th annual K&N Filters NHRA SuperNationals.
Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), Jim Yates (Pro Stock), and Geno Scali (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also top their respective fields at the $1.8 million race, the 11th of 23 in the $50 million POWERade Drag Racing Series. For the second weekend in a row, the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes feature the quickest fields of all time.

The native of Long Island, N.Y. -- with the accent to match -- posted a 4.787 at 324.36 mph in his Lucas Oil Chevy Monte Carlo Friday night to assume the provisional No. 1 position for the first time in his career.

A class dominator in the sportsman ranks, Bartone has never been top qualifier in five years at the professional level. He'll need to hold off a talented chase pack through Saturday's final two sessions, scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

"I'm praying for snow," Bartone said. "I'm absolutely tickled pink right now. Certainly, we hope it holds through tomorrow. I think it has a chance. I've got a suite full of friends and family and all our customers from our other business and they're all thrilled. I couldn't think of a better place for this to happen."

Bernstein traversed the quarter mile at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park -- the track where he suffered a season-ending back injury in his rookie season of 2003 -- with a very quick 4.539 at 330.72 mph in his Budweiser dragster. A two-time winner this year, Bernstein is currently third in the points chase.

"I really don't think about the wreck when I come here," Bernstein said. "From Day 1 afterwards I put it out of my mind. This is just another track with a Christmas Tree, a starting line, and a finish line. The main thing I think about here is that I haven't made it out of the first round yet. We're gonna change that this weekend."

A winner of four of the last five races on tour, Doug Kalitta is a distant second to Bernstein after a best of 4.564 at 329.91 mph. Three-time and back-to-back POWERade Series champion Tony Schumacher, meanwhile, has yet to make the Top Fuel field.

Yates' steady upward climb in Pro Stock continues with his top qualifying effort of 6.655 at 208.17 mph in his Sea Ray Boats Pontiac GTO. The run was a personal best for Yates and set both ends of the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park category record. His speed was just six-hundredths shy of Greg Anderson's national record of 208.23 set at Gainesville in 2005.

When bracketed with No. 16 qualifier Erica Enders' 6.692 at 207.56 mph, Yates leads the quickest field of all time.

"Any time you can say you're No. 1 in any field says a lot about your team," said Yates, who last led a field at the 2005 season opener in Pomona, Calif. "To be No. 1 in the quickest field ever is really something. We were No. 1 after both sessions today so I'd say that's a heckuva way to start the weekend."

Former champion Scali is a bit of a surprise at the top of the Pro Stock Motorcycle ladder, but the 7.023 at 191.54 mph he posted on his Performance Machine Suzuki placed him atop the grid at the midway point of qualifying. Scali last qualified No. 1 at the first Chicago race in 2003, the year he won his POWERade Series championship.

"A half hour later and we would have seen some sixes," Scali said, referring to runs in the six-second range. "We just needed the sun to get behind the bleachers. Tomorrow morning's session will be the best of the weekend and I predict we'll see a 7.0-second bump and at least a couple of sixes."

Back-to-back champ Andrew Hines set the Day 1 bump at 7.115 seconds, making this the quickest 16 bikes ever assembled.

(results courtesy NHRA and DRC)




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