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NHRA Notes: Bernsteins Have The Blues

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 26 2010

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Ennis, Texas – Drag racing icon Kenny Bernstein will head into the offseason with his Top Fuel team’s blue color scheme intact.

Bernstein announced Sunday morning that Copart, Inc., a leading on-line vehicle auction site, will remain as primary sponsor on the Top Fuel dragster driven by son Brandon Bernstein for the next three NHRA seasons. Kenny Bernstein and Jay Adair, Copart’s CEO, signed the extension Sunday morning at Texas Motorplex, prior to the opening round of eliminations for the 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals.

Copart began its sponsorship with KB Racing this season, replacing Budweiser – and its traditional red-and-white paint scheme – after a storied 30-year run. Since the sponsorship launch, Copart has made membership free in a bid to make it more convenient to search for and view vehicles offered at www.copart.com.

Founded in 1982, Copart re-markets a variety of vehicles through an internet-based auction on behalf of insurance providers, banks, finance companies, fleet operators, car dealerships and the general public. The company operates 153 facilities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“We felt last year that sponsoring the dragster would be a perfect fit for us to get the word out to car enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers about Copart, and the more than 50,000 vehicles to choose from each day at copart.com,” Adair said in a statement. “Now we want to build on the momentum we established this season and continue increasing awareness of Copart.”

Kenny Bernstein, a six-time NHRA champion and Hall of Famer, said Copart has done an excellent job of marketing its services with the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

“It says a lot for the sport of NHRA drag racing to be able to attract sponsors the caliber of Copart,” Bernstein said. “The Copart family has become our extended family and we’re looking forward to partnering with them in the years to come.”

Brandon Bernstein, winner of 18 NHRA Top Fuel events, kept up his end of the deal by scoring a first-round victory over Terry McMillen. Bernstein covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.843-seconds at 313.00 mph.

Bernstein, who entered Round 3 of NHRA’s six-race Countdown to 1 playoff format fifth in points, followed with a second-round victory over Antron Brown of Don Schumacher Racing. Bernstein posted a career-best ET of 3.784-seconds at 318.09 mph to advance to a semifinal matchup against Shawn Langdon, who upset points-leader Larry Dixon at 3.831-seconds and 311.49 mph. Bernstein’s day ended in the semifinals, when Langdon ran 3.842-seconds and 311.92 to Brandon’s aborted 4.547/166.35.

Brooks to tune Troxel’s Funny Car: Tuner Aaron Brooks, considered one of drag racing’s most promising crew chiefs, has been hired to lead Melanie Troxel’s In-N-Out Burger Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car. Roger Burgess, owner of the R2B2 Racing Team, said the change will take place immediately.

Former crew chief Lance Larsen has been re-assigned within R2B2 Racing and will assist Brooks in the transition, while consultant Richard Hogan has been released.

This will mark Brooks’ second stint at R2B2 Racing. He tuned former world champion Frank Hawley to a low-qualifying effort at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C., in 2008, highlighting Hawley’s six starts with the team. Brooks then left to help Alan Johnson launch Al-Anabi Racing’s Top Fuel and Funny Car operations. Prior to working at R2B2 in 2008, Brooks served as assistant crew chief on four-time world champion Gary Scelzi’s Funny Car, winner of the 2005 title.

“We got the guy we wanted,” Burgess said in a statement. “I really enjoyed having Aaron around when he was with us before and we’re very glad to have him back in the fold.”

The team has added the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, set for Oct. 8-10 at Maple Grove Raceway, to its abbreviated 2010 schedule.

“Aaron asked if we could add the Reading (Pa.) race to our schedule so he’d have time to try a few things before we head out west for the final two races, which are both in big In-N-Out Burger markets – Las Vegas and Southern California,” Burgess said. “So, we’ll have the car at Maple Grove now, and that’s exciting also.”

Burgess said Brooks, 36, has been signed for 2011 and beyond. The team plans to run the full schedule next season.

“Aaron’s a young guy with a lot of fresh ideas and we’re excited to have him,” said Troxel, the only woman and one of just 14 drivers in NHRA history to score wins in nitro Top Fuel and Funny Car. “I’ll do everything I can to get in sync with him and get this car where it needs to be. Hopefully, we’ll be up to speed soon.”

Troxel, 38, failed to qualify for the 16-car ladder at Texas Motorplex Saturday. Her best start in 11 races this season has been ninth in three national events. She has suffered eight first-round losses in 2010 and not advanced beyond the quarterfinals. Troxel’s won/loss record is 4-11 this season and 103/108 for her 121-race career.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 26 2010
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  • Joan Gafner says:

    Great coverage. Exceptionally well written articles. Have you, John Sturbin, ever consider writing a fan based book or novel on motor racing?