Denver: Eliminations summary

Dixon, Force, W. Johnson and Hale score victories at Denver MORRISON, Colo. - Larry Dixon raced to his sixth victory of the season and increased his Top Fuel points lead Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. John Force,...

Dixon, Force, W. Johnson and Hale score victories at Denver

MORRISON, Colo. - Larry Dixon raced to his sixth victory of the season and increased his Top Fuel points lead Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. John Force, Warren Johnson and Blaine Hale also were winners in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the 13th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Dixon used a consistent 4.7-second tune-up to earn his 31st career NHRA Top Fuel victory when he clocked a pass of 4.737 seconds at 313.15 mph in his Miller Lite dragster to defeat Doug Kalitta, whose Mac Tools dragster lost traction and slowed to a run of 5.135 at 228.69. "I think that this year we have a great setup," said Dixon. "We slowly worked on the tune-up this weekend and the guys found it last night. We ran 4.70s up here all day long, I don't think anybody's done that. (Crew Chief) Dick LaHaie and the guys did a great job."

Dixon defeated Mitch King, Tony Schumacher and rival Kenny Bernstein, before besting Kalitta in the final round. With the victory, Dixon extends his POWERade points lead to 229 points over Kalitta.

Force captured his first victory of the season and 107th of his career by defeating rival Cruz Pedregon in the final round of Funny Car. Force drove his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to a pass of 5.044 at 289.45 to score his first victory since the final race of the 2002 season. It marks the 17th consecutive season that Force has earned an NHRA victory and ends his longest winless drought since 1989. "It's a good feeling," said Force. "It's been a long time. It feels good to finally win. It keeps me in the ball game mentally, it was just a good day. I did my job against (Whit) Bazemore in the second round. It's good for Tony (Pedregon) because he's got a good shot to win his first NHRA title."

Force knocked off Johnny Gray, Whit Bazemore and Frank Pedregon, prior to edging C. Pedregon for the win. Force's victory moved him to fourth place in the Funny Car points standings. Force's teammate Tony Pedregon, who was defeated in the first round of eliminations for the first time since June 2002, remains atop the points standings and leads Whit Bazemore by 124 POWERade points.

Johnson drove his GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am to his 91st career NHRA Pro Stock victory when he defeated Jeg Coughlin in the final round. Johnson, the second winningest driver in NHRA history, used a pass of 7.222 at 191.05 to earn the win, while Coughlin clocked a run of 7.250 at 190.75. "It helped both Kurt (Johnson) and myself when I was able to beat Greg (Anderson)," said Johnson. "We're definitely not out of it yet, that's for sure. There's no such thing as a bad win or a good loss." Johnson, who won from the No. 9 qualifying position, beat George Marnell, Pro Stock points leader Greg Anderson and defending event champion Mike Edwards, before outdistancing Coughlin in the final round. Anderson continues to lead the POWERade points chase and has a 71-point advantage over K. Johnson.

Hale stunned the Pro Stock Bike field by winning from the No. 16 qualifying position. He used a significant starting-line advantage and a run of 7.623 at 176.03 aboard his Cornwell Tools Suzuki to defeat Mike Berry, who clocked a run of 7.591 at 176.24., to score his first career NHRA victory. It marks the first race since the national event at Baton Rouge, La. in 1987 that the No.16 qualifier has won in Pro Stock Bike. "This is really something," said Hale. "This is our first year on a Suzuki, we're just trying to figure stuff out for next season. I never would have guessed in a million years this would happen to me. My mother always told me it's better to be lucky than good." Hale advanced to round two when No. 1 qualifier GT Tonglet fouled at the start. Hale then defeated Karen Stoffer, who suffered mechanical problems, and Pro Stock Bike points leader Geno Scali, who also fouled at the start, before scoring his first career win over Berry. Scali extended his points lead over Angelle Savoie, who fell in round one to Michael Phillips, to 109 points.

The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 16th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, July 25-27, at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Mike Berry , Cruz Pedregon , Dick LaHaie , Mitch King , Geno Scali , Karen Stoffer , George Marnell , Johnny Gray , Michael Phillips , GT Tonglet , Mike Edwards