August 9-12, 2007
(results courtesy DRC and NHRA.com )
BRAINERD, Minn. --
Force and Bernstein last faced each other in 1989 at the SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J., an event that Bernstein went on to win for his last Funny Car victory. Bernstein now holds a 13-8 mark against Force, including a 6-2 record in final rounds. Force's career record improves to 125-74, while Bernstein's falls to 69-51.
"Heading into Bristol John Medlen got into me and said I needed to start being the leader of this team. Eric [Medlen's] gone and it was time to get up and do our job. It was hard to get up for the fight but then the car came around and we got on a roll.
"This race took me back to 1978 when Kenny Bernstein was the king and he beat me and I told myself that one day I'd beat him. But then he left the class and I never got my chance."
Force has raced to the final round in four of the last five races and has moved all the way up to fourth in the POWERade points.
Five more Funny Car racers gobbled up positions in the Countdown to the Championship including low qualifier Mike Ashley, "Fast Jack" Beckman, Force, Tony Pedregon, and Gary Scelzi. There are six racers mathematically alive for the one remaining position currently held by Jim Head, who has a comfortable 83-point edge over No. 9 Tommy Johnson Jr.
This was Brandon's fifth win of the season -- a career high -- and the 17th of his career. He improved his head-to-head mark over Dixon to 14-5 overall, including a 2-0 record in final rounds. Dixon falls to 2-2 on the year and 40-35 in career final rounds.
"That's a great team over there and they were running 4.50s all day just like us so we knew the final would be a tough race," said Bernstein, who also won this race last year. "It's wonderful to see the Budweiser car running so consistently because Indy will be here before you know it and we really want to be as close to perfect as possible when the Countdown starts.
"It was tough watching Dad lose right in front of us. I could see the big screen and I saw how close he was at the finish line. I know he wanted that one really bad and for as much jubilation as we're feeling on our side of the pit we're bummed out for them. I really wanted to get done with our race and give him a hug because I could see he was down. It'll happen one of these days, hopefully for both of us at the same time."
Bob Vandergriff became the sixth Top Fuel racer to lock-up a spot in the Countdown to the Championship field, leaving just two slots left. There are seven drivers vying for those final two positions now held by Whit Bazemore and Dave Grubnic.
Coughlin's 50 career wins have come in both the Pro and Sportsman categories. He has 37 Pro Stock wins, including three this year, and 13 sportsman wins in four different classes: Super Stock (seven), Super Gas (four), Competition (one), and Top Dragster (one). Coughlin is just the 11th racer in history to win 50 national events.
"This was big," Coughlin said. "To get our 50th win against the competition we run these days is special. Today's a great example of how tough it is; I had Allen Johnson, who's fourth in the points, Jason Line who's fifth, the big cowboy, six-time champion Warren Johnson, and then the best driver in the class over the last four years in Greg Anderson.
"Getting to 50 wins was one of my goals when I returned to Pro Stock. It's special to think that only 10 other people have achieved that mark in 50-plus years of drag racing. Fortunately, I've had a great hot rod with [team owner] Victor Cagnazzi and his entire team of technicians and mechanics and they've given me a car capable of winning races."
There are still three positions left to be filled in the Pro Stock portion of the Countdown as no one managed to secure a spot this weekend. Kurt Johnson, Warren Johnson, and Larry Morgan currently hold the final three spots with Morgan 55 points ahead of ninth-place runner Vieri Gaines.
"It's always a great deal when you can run your teammate in the final," Hines said. "It doesn't matter who wins or loses because the team has already accomplished its goal. It's so tough to get one bike to the final round these days, let alone to get both of them there. It was a great day for the entire Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines team."
Moving up to second place with his win, Hines was the only rider to clinch a spot in the Countdown to the Championship this weekend, leaving five open spaces. Krawiec's second final-round appearance in as many races has lifted him from 12th to eighth place in the POWERade points.
Sunday's final results from the 26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. The race is the 16th of 23 in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel -- Brandon Bernstein, 4.525 seconds, 329.91 mph def. Larry Dixon, 4.586 seconds, 323.35 mph.
Funny Car -- John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.794, 316.60 def. Kenny Bernstein, Dodge Charger, 4.801, 320.43.
Pro Stock -- Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.667, 205.94 def. Greg Anderson, Pontiac GTO, 6.669, 207.24.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.009, 188.20 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.077, 183.94.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Spencer Massey, 5.266, 276.13 def. Morgan Lucas, 5.376, 268.54.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Frank Manzo, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.530, 262.95 def. Steve Harker, Monte Carlo, 5.643, 257.28.
Competition Eliminator -- Dean Carter, Dragster, 7.065, 170.88 def. Frank Aragona, Altered, 8.387, 152.06.
Super Stock -- Kevin Borgstrom, Chevy Chevelle, 10.636, 119.98 def. Marcus Allen, Chevy Camaro, 10.645, 119.73.
Super Comp -- Jeff Cheney, Dragster, 8.912, 161.29 def. Thomas Bayer, Dragster, 8.908, 173.92.
Super Gas -- Ray Connolly, Chevy Corvette, 9.942, 149.93 def. Randy Nygaard, Chevy Cavalier, 9.884, 135.95.
BRAINERD, Minn. --
Tony Schumacher also is off to great start at Brainerd International Raceway, moving to the front of the Top Fuel class with a 4.548 Saturday morning.
Friday Pro Stock leaders Jason Line and Chip Ellis both needed to pick up the pace Saturday to keep their top ranking. Line responded to the challenge with a 6.740, while Ellis posted the first six-second bike pass in track history to earn his first pole of the year.
Next in line to secure a position in the Countdown to the Championship, Ashley is leaving nothing to chance. His 4.781 at 327.51 mph in Round 3 came after several racers had passed his Friday night mark of 4.833. Unfazed, he cruised down the strip in his Torco Dodge Charger R/T to collect his second straight low qualifier award.
"Being the quickest and fastest of every session is pretty impressive," Ashley said. "The last few races we've been sidetracked a bit trying different things. We decided to go back to what got us to the dance in the first place and just make absolutely sure we get down the track every run."
Teammates John Force and Robert Hight, along with veteran Kenny Bernstein, also posted 4.7-second runs Saturday. Force earned second place on the grid with a 4.786 at 325.30 mph in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Hight was third with a 4.796 at 322.58 mph in the Auto Club Ford, while Bernstein powered to a fourth-best 4.796 at 319.60 mph in the Monster Energy Drink Dodge.
"We made three good runs, all in the heat, and we're racing in the heat tomorrow so I'm really happy right now," Schumacher said. "What can I say? Alan Johnson [crew chief] is the man. He's had this thing running strong and I have a lot of confidence in what we're doing right now."
"If I could win anywhere it would be right here," Line said. "This is home for me. This is where it all started. It would mean more to me than Indy, to be honest. The trophies look the same and the points count the same, this is just a place where that core group of people that I grew up with all race. It's special."
"We tried something this morning when it was still real cloudy because we figured that would be the best session of the weekend," Ellis said. "We improved to a 7.01 but overall it didn't really work the way we wanted, except for down low. So we took the stuff that worked and put it with the tune-up from yesterday and we got the 6.99. I'm really excited."
Peggy Llewellyn improved to a 7.031 at 188.57 mph on her Klement Racing Buell to lock up second place, the best start of her brief career.
Angelle Sampey and Karen Stoffer also earned to-half berths, placing
three female riders on the preferred side of the ladder. Sampey's
U.S. Army Suzuki posted a 7.042 at 188.67 mph, which placed her fourth,
while Stoffer's Geico Motorcycle Suzuki went 7.112 to slot her
BRAINERD, Minn. --
All four low qualifiers had to beat out champions to earn top billing. Fuller passed Round 1 leader Tony Schumacher. Ashley fought pass John Force, who had passed him earlier in the second round, with a 4.833. Line knocked teammate Greg Anderson down two pegs with his 6.750, while Ellis showed early leader Angelle Sampey he means business with a 7.032.
Like most of his peers in Top Fuel, Fuller struggled to get down the track in the opening session. But once the sun got off the racetrack he was able to make his move, running a 4.607 at 324.83 mph to take the top spot. Fuller has been top qualifier three times this year.
"Our first run was a mistake on my part, to be honest," Fuller said. "They had the car set up soft because they wanted it to go down that hot racetrack. They slip the clutch to get it to do that but when I stepped on the gas it felt weird to me so I lifted.
"The second time it felt good all the way down the track, at least for a hot track, and I knew it was good when I pulled the chutes. I felt totally relieved because I wanted to make it up to my guys."
Larry Dixon jumped to second with a 4.617 at 298.34 mph in his SkyTel dragster. Fuller's David Powers Motorsports teammate Whit Bazemore followed in third with a 4.628 in his Matco Tools rail. Round 1 leader Schumacher dropped to 11th overall.
"It's definitely hot out there but I feel like we have a really good hot weather tune-up," Ashley said. "When we're not trying new things or breaking in new parts, our car is very consistent."
John Force ended up second with his 4.846 at 317.19 mph in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. His teammate Robert Hight was next with a 4.867 in the Auto Club Ford. Force's daughter Ashley is on the provisional DNQ list and needs a 5.248 or better to make the cut.
"Both Greg [Anderson, teammate] and I are already in the Countdown to the Championship field so we're using these final two races before the first cutoff to test some things so we can be at full speed when the next phase starts," Line said. "I know I'm going to be working on my driving quite a bit. We're still looking for wins also."
Ron Krisher was the closest to Line with a 6.753 at 203.80 mph in his Valvoline Cobalt. Greg Anderson led the first session but dropped to third by day's end despite improving to a 6.769 at 204.63 mph in his GTO.
"This year has been a struggle to a certain extent," Ellis said. "But the entire team, including the guys at S&S, have been working so hard and I think we're gaining on it. This is a nice deal for them."
Reigning series champ Andrew Hines is second on his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod, a hundredth of a second back of Ellis with a 7.042 at 189.50 mph. Angelle Sampey is a distant third on the U.S. Army Suzuki with a 7.091.
BRAINERD, Minn. --
WHERE: Brainerd International Raceway and Resort, Brainerd, Minn. Track is located a few miles north of the Brainerd area off Highway 371. The track is located on the east side of the highway.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 9-12.
PURSE: Cash and contingency awards of more than $1.2 million.
FRIDAY, Aug. 10 - Sportsman qualifying begins at 9:15 a.m. PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 2:45 and 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 11 - Sportsman qualifying begin at 9:15 a.m. PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:15 a.m. and 2 p.m.
SUNDAY, Aug. 12 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.
Sunday, Aug. 12, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute news magazine show, at 11 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 12, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET).
2006 EVENT WINNERS: Brandon Bernstein, Top Fuel; Tommy Johnson Jr., Funny Car; Dave Connolly, Pro Stock; Antron Brown, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
GENERAL ADMISSION (includes pit pass) - Thursday: Adult, $20; Child (6-12 years), $10. Friday: Adult, $40; Child (6-12 years), $20; Saturday: Adult, $55; Child (6-12 years), $27. Sunday: Adult, $55; Child (6-12 years), $27.
RESERVED SEATS (includes pit pass) - Thursday: Adult, $40; Child (6-12 years), $30. Friday: Adult, $65; Child (6-12 years), $45. Saturday: Adult, $80; Child (6-12 years), $52. Sunday: Adult, $85; Child (6-1212 years), $57.
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