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Bernstein's Stellar Driving Gets Him To Second Round In Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 15) - Top Fuel driver Brandon Bernstein was on his game at the NHRA national event in Charlotte on Sunday, but despite leaving first on his opponents in the first and second round, Bernstein was out in the quarterfinals.

Bernstein had reaction times of .050- and .059-second on Sunday, scoring a fiery holeshot win in the first round, but after beating Morgan Lucas Racing teammate Morgan Lucas off the line in Round 2, Bernstein smoked the tires and saw his day come to an end.

"Today was good as far as my driving," Bernstein said. "I felt like I was cutting the Tree down. It felt really good in there."

Against Lucas, Bernstein had a slight advantage on the Christmas Tree, but his dragster smoked the tires not long after the hit.

"It's just unfortunate that the Protect The Harvest team didn't give him a drag race," Bernstein said. "I hate smoking the tires. It's just one of those things, but hey we raced him heads-up. There were no team orders to lay down. I'm sure a lot of people probably were saying that kind of stuff, but it wasn't at all; we were racing him heads-up. There was no discussion whatsoever, and we wanted to race him and see if we could win."

Bernstein, who made four solid qualifying passes, slowed to a 5.946 at 103.86 mph while Lucas' run was 3.886 seconds at 288.70 mph.

"The car ran great all weekend except for today," Bernstein said. "It's unfortunate we couldn't get it to hook up and go down there because the four qualifying runs were perfection."

Bernstein's first-round win was anything but perfection, but he did turn on the win light against David Grubnic. After a .050 light, Bernstein smoked the tires but pedaled the car to keep it going. Soon before the finish line the engine blew, but he held on for a holeshot win.

Bernstein's pass was 4.324 seconds at 233.92 mph, enough to overcome Grubnic's pass of 4.281 seconds at 246.30 mph. The difference? Bernstein's .051-second advantage on the starting line.

"That first run was pretty wild," Bernstein said. "It got out there and spun the tires and I pedaled it. Right down toward the finish line, it started eating itself up. Then all of a sudden it got really hot in my back, so I was like, 'I'm on fire pretty good if I'm feeling it.' It was one of those things where I tried to get it stopped as quick as I could to jump out of it.

"It was a mess. I've never had an explosion to where oil was all the way up in the cockpit. We had puddles of oil in the cockpit, oil over the windshield, just annihilated stuff. It was ugly."

Next up for Bernstein is the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals next weekend in Dallas