From the Snake Pit: IRL championship contender Scott Dixon goes testing with Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite race team at Indianapolis Raceway Park INDIANAPOLIS, IND. (Aug. 21) -- Larry Dixon and the Snake Racing team have completed two ...
From the Snake Pit:
IRL championship contender Scott Dixon goes testing with Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite race team at Indianapolis Raceway Park
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. (Aug. 21) -- Larry Dixon and the Snake Racing team have completed two successful days of testing at Indianapolis Raceway Park in preparation for the most prestigious race on the 23-stop, 2003 NHRA POWERade schedule: The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals (Aug.27th through Sept.1st).
In preparation for the 49th annual running of the legendary Indy Nationals, the Miller Lite Top Fuel dragster made five passes in total in Indianapolis, two on Tuesday and three on Wednesday. Working in sweltering Midwest summer heat and humidity, the championship-leading team used Tuesday to work on a baseline combination, with driver Larry Dixon posting consistent 4.649/275.06 and 4.673/275.73 passes, respectively.
Said assistant crew chief Don Bender of Tuesday's test session: "Today we put a combination in that we thought would get down the track; our basic 'get down the track' combination. He [Larry] shut off at about 1,000 feet and ran about a 4.64 E.T. On the second run, we tried to step it up, but it wore the clutch out. Tomorrow, during the day, we'll test some parts, and then at night we'll make a run that we think will hold for Friday night qualifying for the U.S. Nationals."
On Wednesday, after two aborted, tire smoking runs - no doubt precipitated by a greasy, baking hot track (afternoon track temperatures ranged from 119 to 131 degrees!), Bender's prediction proved correct as Dixon and the Miller Lite dragster, with the track temperature at a dramatically cooler 110 degrees, blitzed down the quarter mile at 4.603/307.86.
"We tested multiple things in a variety of combinations," explained Bender at the conclusion of the test. "The track temperatures were extremely hot today. I think our first run and last run [of testing] were our best. We weren't able to try everything we wanted to, though, so we'll probably have to test after Dallas."
It wasn't all business for Larry Dixon and the team while in Indiana as on Tuesday the defending Top Fuel World Champion welcomed a very special guest to the starting line, Indy Racing League driver Scott Dixon. In the neighborhood -- the Target Chip Ganassi Racing IRL team is based in Indianapolis -- Dixon, 23, was mightily impressed by the forceful impact a top fuel driver must deal with.
"The G-loads certainly got their attention," said Larry Dixon after speaking to Dixon, who shows up for work in a 1,525-pound, 675-horsepower, 220-mile an hour G-Force IRL car. "Especially when you tell them you hit the throttle and the pulls five and a half G's. Hearing that, Scott's eyes got big." Then added Dixon, 'wait, we're still slipping the clutch there. When we lock the clutch up it pulls 7 G's - and that's forward G's - and then you can really feel the acceleration.' I think that information certainly woke Scott up."
Scott Dixon, who has won three races thus far this season and currently sits third in the IRL series point standings, said he wouldn't mind swapping his methanol-burning IRL machine for Nixon's nitro methane-powered beast. "The G-forces they get are well beyond what we do," conceded the native of New Zealand. "I think it would be pretty cool to sit behind 8,000 horsepower and give it a go."
Analogies are hard to come by when it comes to explaining the surreal power of a Top Fuel car. However, in his own special way, Larry Dixon was able to conjure one up for the oval driver. "It's like trying to ride a bronco bull in a straight line," explained the Miller Lite pilot. "That's what you are feeling in the car and when you can show that to a person like Scott, it's great. He's certainly into cars and I think he understands and really respects what we do."
Between their shared on-track successes in 2003, the name Dixon has been extremely popular this season. "When I watch the sports shows and hear, 'Dixon wins!' I think, 'hey, that's me," joked the current NHRA champion. "Then I realize, 'no, wait, that was Scott Dixon.' I think it's great to finally meet him and hook up. Like us, Scott's in a position to win a championship this season and I certainly wish him the best of luck."