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Keeping Pace

Tue., May 26, 2009, 12:05 a.m.

Bernstein team in good position to challenge for the point lead

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

So far this season the Budweiser/Lucas Oil team has scored three runner-up and three final four showings in eight races.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

TOPEKA, Kan.Hall of Famer and six-time NHRA champion team owner Kenny Bernstein said his Budweiser/Lucas Oil team is on goal for this season as they head for the O’Reilly Summer Nationals May 29-31.

“We wanted to come out of the gate this year with solid, consistent, competitive performances,” said Bernstein. “With our new crew chief Rob Flynn and assistant crew chief Mike Guger, we’ve found a good mix with the team members who have been with us the past few years.  Brandon has been doing a good job driving and we’re just hovering in the top three in point standings. 

“Hopefully we can continue with this consistency through the hot summer months and be within striking distance as the Countdown begins later this year.”

“From the cockpit, it’s exciting to know that every time you pull to the starting line you have a good chance to win,” said Brandon, who took over the driving chores from his legendary father in 2003.  “It helps build confidence.  Right now we’re riding some pretty good momentum and our team morale is high.”

So far this season the Budweiser/Lucas Oil team has scored three runner-up and three final four showings in eight races.

The second generation driver has driven to the finals at Heartland Park three out of the five years in which he has competed.  He took home the Top Fuel trophy in 2004 and 2007 and was runner-up in 2006.

“It would be pretty nice to be able to win in Topeka,” said Brandon.  “We’ve been knocking at the door of victory and it’s time we opened the door and walked through.”

With Budweiser recently announcing that they will not return in 2010 after 30 years of primary sponsorship with the Kenny Bernstein team, new sponsorship is being actively pursued.

“We are passionate about the sport of NHRA drag racing and we will continue to field a team in 2010 with Brandon as the driver if we can secure sponsorship,” said six-time champion Kenny Bernstein. “But let me stress that if we don’t find funding for next year, we will not be back.  Racing is our business.  We do not have another business to fall back on to help absorb the expense of a race team.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to all the Budweiser employees and wholesalers we’ve worked with through the years, as well as the fans and friends who have followed and supported us beginning with the Funny Car era.

 “We believe that taking a proactive role in initiating programs and promotions that help sell product and build brand awareness has been an integral part of retaining our sponsorship associations through the years.  Coupled with the success we’ve had on the racetrack while flying the Budweiser colors, including six NHRA championships and 85 national event victories between Brandon and me, then it’s a very attractive opportunity for another sponsor.

 “We think we have been one of the marquee teams in this sport for the past three decades and we bring with us 30 years of fan base. NHRA drag racing is our home.”

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.