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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Bernstein Finally Claims Sears Point, Worsham And Martino
Come From The Bottom Of The Ladder For Wins


SONOMA, Calif. - Kenny Bernstein scored his 58th career NHRA victory at Sunday's FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Sears Point Raceway, the 16th race of the NHRA's 50th anniversary season.

Del Worsham and Tom Martino also won their respective categories at the $1.7 million race, the 16th of 24 races in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Bernstein won his fifth national event of the season after final round opponent David Grubnic's dragster suffered an engine explosion and shut off at half track. Bernstein's Budweiser King dragster covered the quarter-mile distance in 4.819 at 298.40 to Grubnic's 5.843 at 153.54.

The win in Sonoma not only increased Bernstein's NHRA Winston points lead over Larry Dixon to 76 points, he also added another race track to his impressive list of wins. After 13 NHRA national events at Sears Point Raceway, this is the first for Bernstein in either Top Fuel or Funny Car. Of the 20 race tracks that the NHRA visits in the course of a season, Bernstein now has yet to win at two of them. The two tracks remaining for Bernstein to conquer are Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn. and Gateway International Raceway outside of St. Louis. Gateway has been hosting NHRA national events since 1997 and Bristol Dragway started this year. 

"This track has beat us up pretty good," said Bernstein, the only NHRA competitor to win Winston championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. "We did get to the finals here back in 1996. This has been a tough race track for us. We just have not had much success here."

Bernstein received a first round bye due to the fact that only 15 Top Fuel cars attempted to qualify and after running 4.654 in the first round, Bernstein never lost lane choice and opted for the left lane every time. Bernstein took out Mike Dunn, Doug Herbert, and finally Grubnic en route to his 28th Top Fuel win in his career. 

"I think it (lane choice) was less of a factor than we probably all thought it would be coming in here," Bernstein said. "In the past there had been a tremendous difference in lanes. In the sunshine, the left lane was a little better than the right. That's why we continued to take the left lane all day."

Worsham's third victory of the season came when opponent Jim Epler's Napa AutoCare Centers Chevrolet Camaro lost traction and Worsham blasted down the track in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird in 5.044 seconds at 301.60 mph. Epler couldn't catch Worsham, slowing to 6.222 at 156.88.

"The competition is so tough in Funny Car that every round is like a final round," said Worsham, who recently found out that he will be the father of twins in March of 2002. "The guy you race in the first round could easily be the guy you race in the final round the following week. There are no easy rounds. We got lucky today."

After winning twice in his rookie campaign in 1991, Worsham had to wait eight years before winning again in 1999. With three wins already this season, Worsham has regained the form that made him the 1991 NHRA Rookie of the Year.

"My whole life I have dreamed of doing this," Worsham said. "We're finally back to where we were in our rookie season. It's been a career year."

The win moves Worsham three points past Whit Bazemore for second place in the NHRA Winston Funny Car points but 346 behind leader and ten-time Winston champion John Force. Despite starting the day qualified 12th, Worsham used round victories over Ron Capps, Bruce Sarver, Whit Bazemore before meeting Epler in the final.

Martino earned his fourth career Pro Stock victory with a pass of 7.037 at 196.50 in his Century 21 Pontiac Grand Am after Mike Edwards' Young Life Chevrolet Cavalier broke before half track and coasted to a 13.853 at 59.64. Martino's win in Sonoma is his first in three years. Not since the 1998 Visionaire NorthStar Nationals has Martino celebrated in the winners circle.

"It's been a long time," said Martino. "I have to thank Century 21 a pile. They have been with me for three years. It's probably the easiest sponsor that anyone has ever had. They have stuck with me through this whole time." 

Although Martino qualified 11th, he used four straight hole-shots to visit the winners circle. Martino's superior reaction times were the advantage he needed to defeat Jim Yates, Kurt Johnson, Mark Pawuk, and finally Edwards. Warren Johnson was eliminated in the first round but maintained his NHRA Winston points lead over Jim Yates by 73 points. 

At the conclusion of the Top Fuel final round, Funny Car driver John Force and Top Fuel driver Gary Scelzi helped demolish the race track at Sears Point Raceway. Force and Scelzi broke through retaining walls and raced 50-ton bulldozers down the quarter-mile as part of Sears Point Raceway's facelift scheduled to be completed by February of 2002. The renovations to the drag strip are the first since 1968. 

The next NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event is the 20th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals, Aug. 16-19 at The Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn.

SONOMA, Calif. -- Final finish order (1-16) for professional categories at the 14th annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals at Sears Point Raceway. The $1.9 million race is the 16th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

1. Kenny Bernstein; 2. David Grubnic; 3. Doug Herbert; 4. Tim Gibson; 5. Tony Schumacher; 6. Larry Dixon; 7. Mike Dunn; 8. Gary Scelzi; 9. Rhonda Hartman-Smith; 10. Don Sosenka; 11. Darrell Russell; 12. John Smith; 13. ; 14. Robert Reehl; 15. Bobby Baldwin; 16. Doug Kalitta. 

1. Del Worsham, '01 Pontiac Firebird; 2. Jim Epler, Chevy Camaro; 3. Whit Bazemore, Firebird; 4. Tony Pedregon, Ford Mustang; 5. Chuck Etchells, Camaro; 6. Frank Pedregon, Firebird; 7. Bob Gilbertson, Firebird; 8. Bruce Sarver, Firebird; 9. John Force, Mustang; 10. Ron Capps, Camaro; 11. Al Hofmann, Firebird; 12. Scotty Cannon, Firebird; 13. Johnny Gray, Firebird; 14. Jerry Toliver, Firebird; 15. Dean Skuza, Dodge R/T; 16. Tommy Johnson Jr., Camaro. 

1. Tom Martino, Pontiac Grand Am; 2. Mike Edwards, Chevy Cavalier; 3. Bruce Allen, Grand Am; 4. Mark Pawuk, Grand Am; 5. Kurt Johnson, Cavalier; 6. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger; 7. Darrell Alderman, Dodge Neon R/T; 8. Jeg Coughlin, Cavalier; 9. Warren Johnson, Grand Am; 10. Jim Yates, Grand Am; 11. Mark Osborne, Neon R/T; 12. Ron Krisher, Cavalier; 13. V. Gaines, Cavalier; 14. Brad Jeter, Grand Am; 15. Larry Morgan, Neon R/T; 16. George Marnell, Grand Am. 

SONOMA, Calif. -- Sunday's final results from the 14th annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals at Sears Point Raceway. The $1.9 million race is the 16th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel -- Kenny Bernstein, 4.819 seconds, 298.40 mph def. David Grubnic, 5.843 seconds, 153.54 mph. 

Funny Car -- Del Worsham, Pontiac Firebird, 5.044, 301.60 def. Jim Epler, Chevy Camaro, 6.222, 156.88. 

Pro Stock -- Tom Martino, Pontiac Grand Am, 7.037, 196.50 def. Mike Edwards, Chevy Cavalier, 13.853, 59.64. 

Federal-Mogul Dragster -- Mark Hentges, 5.503, 255.77 def. Duane Shields, 5.518, 256.06. 

Federal-Mogul Funny Car -- Doug Gordon, Chevy Camaro, 5.877, 246.03 def. Bucky Austin, Camaro, 5.899, 242.28. 

Comp Eliminator -- Wayne Ramay, Dragster, 7.315, 178.47 def. Andy Manna Jr., Pontiac Trans Am, 8.480, 156.14. 

Super Stock -- Bill Bennett, Chevy Camaro, 10.262, 125.52 def. Doug Lambeck, Camaro, 9.418, 142.67. 

Stock -- Toby Lang, Chevelle, 12.025, 109.07 def. Jim Meador, Dodge Dart, 11.377, 19.96. 

Super Comp -- Kyle Seipel, Dragster, 8.898, 142.15 def. Robert Hartzell, Boulton, foul. 

Super Gas -- Dean Hall, Chevy Bel Air, 9.905, 151.90 def. William Boxold, '27-T Ford, 9.873, 150.95. 

SONOMA, Calif. -- Final round-by-round results from the 14th annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals at Sears Point Raceway, the 16th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series:


ROUND ONE -- Mike Dunn, 4.780, 295.27 def. Robert Reehl, 9.251, 79.66; Tony Schumacher, 4.669, 317.79 def. Darrell Russell, 5.578, 180.32; David Grubnic, 4.703, 312.50 def. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 4.953, 296.05; Doug Herbert, 5.002, 282.48 def. John Smith, 6.480, 126.82; Kenny Bernstein, 4.654, 313.58 was unopposed; Gary Scelzi, 4.872, 224.70 def. Bobby Baldwin, 9.359, 86.20; Larry Dixon, 4.608, 314.46 def. Don Sosenka, 5.536, 251.20; Tim Gibson, 4.763, 308.21 def. Doug Kalitta, 17.095, 73.06; 

QUARTERFINALS -- Herbert, 4.781, 308.28 def. Scelzi, 9.240, 84.49; Gibson, 4.741, 309.06 def. Schumacher, 4.872, 281.48; Bernstein, 4.717, 310.27 def. Dunn, 5.130, 239.31; Grubnic, 4.751, 309.49 def. Dixon, 5.099, 275.06; 

SEMIFINALS -- Grubnic, 5.219, 256.50 def. Gibson, 10.729, 88.34; Bernstein, 4.700, 312.86 def. Herbert, 5.144, 209.46; 

FINAL -- Bernstein, 4.819, 298.40 def. Grubnic, 5.843, 153.54. 


ROUND ONE -- Tony Pedregon, Ford Mustang, 4.992, 310.84 def. Dean Skuza, Dodge R/T, 6.907, 126.41; Chuck Etchells, Chevy Camaro, 6.131, 221.82 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Camaro, 7.739, 143.93; Jim Epler, Camaro, 5.076, 300.40 def. John Force, Mustang, 5.016, 299.40; Bruce Sarver, Pontiac Firebird, 6.039, 229.08 def. Jerry Toliver, Firebird, 6.125, 213.23; Whit Bazemore, Firebird, 4.989, 299.86 def. Al Hofmann, Firebird, 5.082, 295.40; Del Worsham, Firebird, 5.044, 302.01 def. Ron Capps, Camaro, 5.055, 297.55; Bob Gilbertson, Firebird, 5.455, 267.75 def. Johnny Gray, Firebird, 5.848, 228.85; Frank Pedregon, Firebird, 5.034, 301.94 def. Scotty Cannon, Firebird, 5.339, 242.23; 

QUARTERFINALS -- Worsham, 5.100, 300.93 def. Sarver, 8.126, 99.80; Bazemore, 5.105, 289.38 def. F. Pedregon, 5.247, 292.27; T. Pedregon, 5.080, 298.80 def. Gilbertson, 6.997, 123.14; Epler, 5.035, 290.32 def. Etchells, 5.105, 292.65; 

SEMIFINALS -- Worsham, 5.008, 301.94 def. Bazemore, 5.019, 297.09; Epler, 5.065, 299.66 def. T. Pedregon, 6.195, 167.68; 

FINAL -- Worsham, 5.044, 301.60 def. Epler, 6.222, 156.88. 


ROUND ONE -- Mike Edwards, Chevy Cavalier, 6.915, 199.79 def. V. Gaines, Cavalier, 6.943, 198.90; Mark Pawuk, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.931, 198.90 def. Ron Krisher, Cavalier, 6.929, 199.37; Tom Martino, Grand Am, 6.947, 198.96 def. Jim Yates, Grand Am, 6.900, 200.20; Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 7.008, 197.28 def. Mark Osborne, Dodge Neon R/T, 6.918, 200.17; Bruce Allen, Grand Am, 6.899, 199.91 def. Brad Jeter, Grand Am, 6.951, 199.20; Darrell Alderman, Neon R/T, 6.934, 200.59 def. Warren Johnson, Grand Am, 6.888, 201.04; Kurt Johnson, Cavalier, 6.933, 199.17 def. George Marnell, Grand Am, 6.997, 198.26; Jeg Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.938, 199.73 def. Larry Morgan, Neon R/T, 6.977, 198.73; 

QUARTERFINALS -- Martino, 6.961, 198.20 def. K. Johnson, 6.958, 198.82; Pawuk, 6.971, 197.83 def. Alderman, 16.335, 101.27; Edwards, 6.935, 198.99 def. J. Coughlin, broke; Allen, 6.981, 198.09 def. A. Johnson, foul; 

SEMIFINALS -- Martino, 6.955, 197.88 def. Pawuk, broke; Edwards, 7.376, 151.51 def. Allen, 12.835, 66.70; 

FINAL -- Martino, 7.037, 196.50 def. Edwards, 13.853, 59.64. 

SONOMA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the 14th annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals at Sears Point Raceway, the 16th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series:

1. Kenny Bernstein, 1,370; 2. Larry Dixon, 1,294; 3. Gary Scelzi, 1,096; 4. Doug Kalitta, 1,079; 5. Mike Dunn, 1,043; 6. Darrell Russell, 997; 7. Doug Herbert, 880; 8. Tony Schumacher, 830; 9. David Grubnic, 705; 10. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 568.

1. John Force, 1,376; 2. Del Worsham, 1,030; 3. Whit Bazemore, 1,027; 4. Bruce Sarver, 946; 5. Tony Pedregon, 944; 6. Ron Capps, 940; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 775; 8. Frank Pedregon, 772; 9. Dean Skuza, 769; 10. Gary Densham, 663.

1. Warren Johnson, 1,104; 2. Jim Yates, 1,031; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 940; 4. Mark Pawuk, 914; 5. Mike Edwards, 901; 6. Kurt Johnson, 844; 7. Mark Osborne, 837; 8. Ron Krisher, 812; 9. Bruce Allen, 809; 10. Darrell Alderman, 648.

-- NHRA.com


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