After spending his entire career racing with his family, it didn’t take Brandon Bernstein long to get comfortable at his new home with the ProtectTheHarvest.com/MAVTV Top Fuel dragster team in 2012.
Since he started, Bernstein always had raced alongside his legendary father, Kenny Bernstein. However, when his father chose to retire, Bernstein successfully stepped out of that shadow by joining Morgan Lucas Racing.
“I wasn’t sure how it would all go at the beginning of the season,” he said. “I’m Brandon, and I felt like I could be Brandon around this new group of guys. It’s great to know I’ve learned and don’t need to have my dad around 24/7 to oversee everything going on with the race team.
“It felt good to have that going for me, and it’s all a credit to how I was raised and how I was taught by my father, both as a driver and as a businessman, that the transition was so smooth. I was comfortable right away and it felt good to be on my own.”
And it didn’t take long for Bernstein to assimilate to MLR.
“I’d been around a lot of the guys on the team for years racing and am personally close to the Lucas family,” Bernstein said. “Morgan Lucas is a great friend of mine, and has been for years. I knew it was going to be an easier than normal transition, but it was like I belonged here the moment I walked in. I was welcomed right away, and we clicked.”
Paired with first-year crew chief Joe Barlam, the reconstructed team got stronger as the season went along and capped the year with semifinal finishes in five of the six Countdown to the Championship races and a victory at the season finale in Pomona.
“It was one of those deals where everyone, from Morgan all the way down to the newest crew guy, felt comfortable from the start,” Bernstein said. “We got along so well and I’m so excited about our second year together because it will only get better.”
Bernstein has scored 19 NHRA Top Fuel wins and three top-three championship finishes since turning pro in 2003 when he earned rookie of the year honors after winning five of his first 13 races. The second-generation star and his team are eager to see if they can add some more accomplishments to his résumé in 2013.
“We felt like we had a consistent car during the Countdown,” Bernstein said. “Getting the win at the end of the year gave us a lot of confidence going into the winter. We really feel this car can contend for a championship, and that’s what we’re going after.”