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Fri, 10 Nov 2000, 09:08 AM

Thursday Pit Notes
By Keith Burgan

POMONA, Calif. -- Kenny Bernstein was in the news on two fronts here today. First came the official announcement that his son Brandon will replace him in the Bud King dragster within two years. As noted here last week Brandon will be driving the Darien and Meadows injected nitro burning Federal Mogul dragster next year racing at 10 national and eight divisional events.

Depending on the younger Bernstein's progress his dad will step aside either at the end of the upcoming season or a year later. Kenny noted that no matter what the outcome of Brandon's driving efforts he would definitely vacate the driver’s seat at the end of the 2002 season.

The most surprising news from the Bud King camp came before the event began as Kenny married long time girlfriend Sheryl Johnson after some 20 years together. Kenny and Sheryl actually went to the courthouse on Wednesday for the wedding of Robert Goodwin and his girlfriend and while there long time friend Ray Alley persuaded them to follow suit although in that case he made Kenny formally propose before filling out the marriage application.The "honeymoon" was placed on hold however as Bernstein headed to the California International Auto Show to sign autographs.

Ralph White's top fuel car was back in action here with Mike Smith returning as the driver and tuner.

The suggested move of Gary Scelzi to the flopper ranks appears to be a non-event. Scelzi told FNN this morning that he expects to once again be wheeling a Winston backed dragster for Alan Johnson in 2001, the final year of the sponsorship deal.

In other Foxen Canyon Motorsports news Bruce Sarver's Pontiac appeared today with Hot Wheels signage replacing the logos on the side of the car. The e-moola decal still covers the hood area and Team DDR is once more bannered on the rear quarter panels.

Dale Eaton was the surprise number two qualifier in Pro Stock Truck after the conclusion of today’s initial qualifying session. Randy Daniels atoned for his Winternationals DNQ by heading the list with a 7.557 with Eaton close behind with a 7.577 from his Dakota. The reason for the step up in performance is a new Magnum P-5 engine built by the Eatons themselves. A successful test following the Houston race convinced the team to make the switch.

Mark Pawuk is in his spare car here after clouting the wall at Dallas after spinning out in the semi final. Unlike Jim Yates' earlier episode the car was not immediately repairable as the primary damage was to the rear of the body and frame.

Shirley Muldowney is back in action here, again with backing from Muldowney and Mike Dunn were the first cars up in today's initial session and Shirley’s 4.677 led the pack until Joe Amato bumped her down with a 4.629. In the final pairing Gary Scelzi relegated Amato to second place with a stout 4.617 that came as a result of Alan Johnson tweaking the Winston dragster at least twice after watching the efforts of those who ran earlier.

A total of 28 Funny Cars made qualifying efforts today but the order of the day was tire smoke with a result that the bump spot is a soft 9.808 by Johnny Gray. John Force was at the sharp end of the field with a 4.908 despite a backfire at 1100 feet that knocked the hatch out of the "Grinch" body and started a fire that took out the right front tire. Tony Pedregon also had a rough time in the Dracula Mustang as he torched the heads and also banged the blower. With a couple of cars scheduled to be fired at tonight's memorial service for Steve Evans both the Castrol teams were thrashing to make the deadline.

Dean Skuza was the first Funny Car to make a solid run and his 4.921 held up until Force's session closing lap. Skuza and Force were the only sub-five second cars today and any lap under six seconds was enough to make the top half of the show.

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