Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster posted a second round effort at the AAA of Southern California NHRA World Finals Sunday resulting in a third-place finish in the 2000 Winston Top Fuel points race.
No. 8 seeded Dixon began the day with a lap of 4.765 seconds at 254.90 mph to defeat No. 9 seed Tim Gibson's pass of 9.924 seconds at 86.79 mph. The win helped Dixon improve his career mark to three wins and only one loss against Gibson for his career, as well as a perfect 3-0 mark for theseason. The first round win also marked the 21st time out of 23 national events where crew chief Dick LaHaie has tuned the Miller Lite Dragster past the always nerve-wracking opening round.
"The car was set up to run in the 4.60s and we would have run that number, but we broke a blower belt near the finish," said Dixon.
Dixon's second round opponent would be top-seeded Mike Dunn and the New York Yankees Dragster. Hoping to match the performance of Dunn's car which had been running in the 4.50-second range all weekend, LaHaie and crew needed to attack the track and hope that Dunn would not be able to repeat his earlier elapsed times. Unfortunately for Dixon, the tune up was too aggressive as Dunn's time of 4.582 seconds at 315.64 mph bettered Dixon's time of 10.296 seconds at 81.88 mph after he lost traction near the start.
"For our second run, there was no way we were going to run a 4.50 so we were banking on him (Dunn) not repeating," said Dixon. "As it turns out, it was us who wouldn't repeat. We just went after it and smoked the tires."
After the day was done, LaHaie was able to provide some additional information as to the performance ofthe Miller Lite/Raybestos car.
"Losing the last qualifying run on Saturday (due to rain) really hurt us," said LaHaie. "Ever since we put this car together since the accident in Memphis, we have been chasing a problem but going down the wrong road to try and correct it. We didn't realize what it was until after the first round and once we corrected it, we found more power in our engine than we have had all season long. Our clutch set up was all wrong, we did get some good data that will really help us for next year."
Dixon's third-place finish in this year's Top Fuel points race ties his career best after he finished third following his 1995 Rookie of the Year effort.