Dallas: Fall Nationals pre-event quotable

QUOTABLE: Larry Dixon - driver of the Miller Lite dragster and the defending NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion and current points leader - "This (championship) isn't mine yet. It will be over when NHRA and POWERade gives us the check after (the...

QUOTABLE:

Larry Dixon - driver of the Miller Lite dragster and the defending NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion and current points leader - "This (championship) isn't mine yet. It will be over when NHRA and POWERade gives us the check after (the season-ending) Pomona (Calif.) race. Anything can happen in this sport and I just take it one race at a time, get down the track and go rounds. You win rounds, you win races, you win championships."

Tony Schumacher - driver of the U.S. Army dragster who earned his first career victory at Dallas (1999) and has been impressive in the final months of the 2003 season - "The U.S. Army team is in the zone right now. (Crew chief) Alan Johnson has the Army car humming. It's a great feeling to get up on race day and know you are going to get down the track in fast form. It gives everyone on the team so much confidence. We want to maintain that level of performance for the remainder of the season. I'd like to think we are not done improving."

Tony Pedregon - driver of the Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang for Force Racing. He and Whit Bazemore are the two leading contenders for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship and becoming the first driver other than John Force to win the title since 1992. Pedregon regained his lead in the standings following his recent win at Chicago. He lost the championship to Force last year in the semifinals of the season's final event - "I learned a lot (in that battle) that I think will help me (now). The main thing is to take the emotion out of it as much as possible and focus on doing my job. I think I got caught up in the emotion last year. Not that it's not an emotional situation. I'm in a position to win my first championship and be the first driver in 11 years to beat John. Bazemore is in the same position. So the mental and psychological battle is as important as who has the fastest race car."

Whit Bazemore - driver of the Matco Tools Dodge Stratus for Schumacher Racing and a leading contender for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship. Following his victory at Memphis, Tenn., he led the standings for the first time in his career - "The guys behind us (in the standings) are very, very good. It's going to be a dogfight to the end, we know it. At this point we don't want to settle for second best, that's for sure. Our fate is in our own hands. We can control the situation if we do our job the best way we know how to do it. And we can win the POWERade championship. If we go out and make mistakes we're not going to win it. We're on a roll, we feel great. I know we have the team to get it done. "

Del Worsham - driver of the red Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird who has slipped in the standings recently, after losing in the first round of eliminations at four of six events. - "There's nothing wrong with our car, and there's nothing wrong with how we're tuning it. We just haven't had the results lately, and that's something every team goes through. Whether it's John Force, or Tony Pedregon, or Whit Bazemore, every team has races where things just don't go as planned. The good news is, we know we're smart enough and talented enough to win wherever we go. We will bounce back. You can take that to the bank."

Phil Burkart - driver of the blue Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird, replacing Johnny Gray who resigned from Worsham Racing following his runner-up finish at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis. Burkart was the runner-up at Chicago recently, his third start since joining the team - "I've driven a lot of Funny Cars, some good, some not so good, and I've won a race. But, there's no getting around the fact I hadn't driven a certified front-running car before. I knew I could handle it, and I was excited as all get-out to do it. It's been fantastic to be associated with this team, to feel the camaraderie, and to strap into the blue Checker, Schuck's, Kragen car. This is what I've worked so hard for."

Jeg Coughlin - driver of the Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier and the defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion. He is the defending winner of the O'Reilly Fall Nationals and is among the leaders in the point standings - "We know that the championship is out of reach for us this year. Our program has posted some strong performances since we won in Sonoma (Calif.). We have our sights set on the No. 2 spot in the standings. We have made big gains in our program lately that are starting to show up on the track. Our goal is to end the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season on a high note and carry the momentum through the offseason."

Jim Yates - driver of the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am and a two-time Pro Stock champion - "We're pretty excited with the progress of our Grand Am. (Crew chief) Rickie (Smith) has really come and turned our program in the right direction. We're feeling pretty confident going into (each race). We hope our progress keeps increasing and we can end our season on a high note. It's that time of year where everyone is starting to get tired and worn out, but we know we can't even slightly feel that way. We have to keep plugging away and get ready for 2004. The whole team has done a great job and I think we'll do fine the rest of the year."

Warren Johnson - driver of the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am and a six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion. Johnson, known for his work ethic, did not let consecutive rainouts alter his work schedule - "With the competition as tight as it is in Pro Stock, our GM Performance Parts Grand Am is in a constant state of flux. Because these machines are so finely tuned, we are looking to pick up thousandths of a second, and when we work on one area, it often opens others for improvement. That is why my days have 36 hours in them, and my weeks have nine days. Doesn't everyone's? My goal for (the remainder of the season) is quite simple. I want to win (every race). I started the season with that intention, and got off to a pretty good start in Pomona (Calif.), but then the plan went awry. However, without sounding arrogant, looking at the tracks and the atmospheric conditions we should be facing for the remainder of the season, I believe the GM Performance Parts Grand Am is fully capable of running the table."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Phil Burkart , Johnny Gray