MORRISON, CO (July 21) Crew Chief Dick LaHaie solved the problems that plagued Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite Team during qualifying on Friday as they recorded a pass of 4.722 seconds at 308.35 mph Saturday to claim the No. 3 position for Sunday's eliminations at the 22nd Annual Mopar Parts Mile High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Slowed by thrown blower belts during his first two attempts Friday and clutch difficulty on Saturday's first qualifying run, Dixon and crew responded with the second quickest pass of the final session to move up from sixth to third on the Top Fuel ladder and earned a first round meeting Sunday with No. 14 John Smith. Dixon's No. 3 qualifying position marks the 11th time out of the first 14 races this season in which he has qualified among the top three.
Dixon's first lap Saturday came in the left lane and resulted in a time of 8.719 seconds at 96.42 as he shut off due to problems with the clutch system. Keeping true to form, LaHaie regained his trademark consistency to tune the Miller Lite Dragster to the lap of 4.722 at 308.35.
"The last run was what we were looking for in the second session on Friday but we had some gremlins we needed to tame first," said Dixon. "We got our car running pretty fast on both ends today, so for tomorrow we will just hit the throttle and see what happens."
Dixon will look to extend his opening round win streak to 15 when he meets Smith inthe first round Sunday. Dixon owns a career mark of 1-0 against Smith after his first round victory coming earlier this season at the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn. The last time he suffered an opening round loss was Oct. 14, 2000 at Houston Raceway Park.
Dixon's career best finish at Bandimere has been a pair of semifinal finishes coming in 1996 and again in 1999. Last season he recorded a second round finish to Tony Schumacher after qualifying fourth. The Miller Lite Driver sits second in the points race, just 62 behind leader Kenny Bernstein. Dixon has reached four final rounds this season, including wins at Gainesville, FL, and Columbus, Ohio.