Brainerd: Finals summary

BRAINERD, Minn. -- Larry Dixon and Ron Capps gave team owner Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme a pair of victories Sunday at the 20th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Dixon claimed his fourth Top Fuel...

BRAINERD, Minn. -- Larry Dixon and Ron Capps gave team owner Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme a pair of victories Sunday at the 20th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Dixon claimed his fourth Top Fuel title of the season and moved into the Winston points lead, while teammate Capps scored his second win of the season in Funny Car. It is the second time Dixon and Capps have won at the same event while driving for Prudhomme (also 1998 Winternationals, Pomona, Calif.).

Bruce Allen and Antron Brown also claimed victories in their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the 17th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Dixon powered his Miller Lite dragster to his 14th career victory by outrunning NHRA Rookie of the Year candidate Darrell Russell. Dixon covered the distance in 4.609 seconds at 316.90 mph, while Russell's Joe Amato-owned dragster slowed near the finish with a 4.709 at 317.42.

"It was a strong weekend," said Dixon, who moved eight points ahead of rival Kenny Bernstein in the Winston points chase. "This is huge. I'm so glad we could both win for Snake. I always like coming to this track. Today, Dick (LaHaie, crew chief) kept working on the car and making it better."

Bernstein was upset in the first round by Luigi Novelli, opening the window of opportunity for Dixon. "It feels good to be able to take advantage of the opportunity and win," Dixon said. "At Sonoma we stumbled and Kenny took advantage. Today we were able to get the job done. I'm sure this points deal is going to go back and forth a few more times before it's over."

Capps cruised to his 11th career NHRA victory and 10th in Funny Car by clocking a 4.939 at 306.53 in his Skoal Chevy Camaro to hold off Whit Bazemore, whose Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird lost traction and limped to the finish in 5.991 at 201.70.

Capps defeated Johnny Gray, Tony Pedregon and Bruce Sarver to advacne to the final.

"This has been a tricky track and today I relied on Ace (Ed McCulloch, crew chief) to help me through it," said Capps. "It was kind of a driver's race. I was so focused on keeping the car in the groove. In the final, I just let the car do the talking. This place has been good to me over the years and I had a good feeling about today. You wonder about karma -- I think I've got it right here."

John Force lost in the semifinals, but maintained a 325 point lead over Bazemore in the Winston standings. With the win, Capps moved from sixth to fourth overall.

Allen ended a nine-year winless drought in Pro Stock, as he sped away from Ron Krisher in the final. Allen, who had won three times previously at Brainerd, recorded a 6.962 at 197.28 in his Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am to defeat Krisher, who posted a slower 6.985 at 198.17 in his Eagle One Chevy Cavalier.

It was the first win for Allen since the 1992 Le Grandnational in Montreal.

"I don't know why it took so long to get back here," said Allen, who used early round wins over Mike Thomas, V. Gaines and Warren Johnson to set the stage for his final round triumph. "We struggled for a while, but we've had some opportunities along the way. Today it all worked in our favor. It was a big deal getting by Warren in the semifinal, then we made an awesome run in the final."

Johnson's semifinal appearance extended his Winston lead to 98 over second place driver Jim Yates.

Brown earned his third win of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle when final round opponent GT Tonglet fouled at the start. With the victory, Brown cut Winston points leader Angelle Savoie's lead to 10.

"I just focused on making smooth, consistent passes all day," said Brown, who defeated Blaine Hale, Reggie Showers and Greg Underdahl to advance to the final. "I picked up 60 points today on Angelle and that will help (in the points chase). We're not going to try and set the world on fire in the last few races. I just want to be consistent and hopefully success will follow."

In one of the scariest moments of the day, Gary Scelzi and John Smith were involved in a spectacular crash in the first round of Top Fuel eliminations. Scelzi's Team Winston dragster suffered an engine explosion, went out of control, crossed the center line and impacted Smith's FRAM dragster. Scelzi wasn't injured in the incident. Smith received minor injuries including fractures to his left arm, lower left leg and left wrist. He is being treated at North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis.

"The car was on a great run. I'm not sure what happened," Scelzi said. "I got past the point on the track where we thought we might have trouble then all of a sudden everything went bad. The engine was going south before all hell broke loose, but I didn't see John (Smith) and kept my foot in it. I didn't black out or anything but I did take some pretty good shots. The chassis did everything it was supposed to do to protect the driver."

The next NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event is the 47th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Aug. 29-Sept. 3 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

-NHRA

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Bruce Sarver , Mike Thomas , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Reggie Showers , Blaine Hale , Bruce Allen , Greg Underdahl , Johnny Gray , Luigi Novelli , GT Tonglet