DIXON RACES TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT ENGLISHTOWN, FATHER'S DAY ROUND-WIN STREAK ENDS AT 23 ROUNDS ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 18, 2006) - Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon advanced to the 71st final round of his career Sunday at Old ...
DIXON RACES TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT ENGLISHTOWN, FATHER'S DAY ROUND-WIN STREAK ENDS AT 23 ROUNDS
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 18, 2006) - Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon advanced to the 71st final round of his career Sunday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park as the 38-time NHRA winner drove his Miller Lite dragster to a runner-up finish at the 37th annual K&N Filters Supernationals.
Starting from the No. 6 qualifying position for the 25th time in his driving career, the 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year defeated current Top Fuel point leader Melanie Troxel, defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher, and rookie racer Hillary Will, before losing to Rod Fuller in the final round.
In the first round of Top Fuel eliminations, Dixon matched up against Troxel, the No. 11 qualifier. As the third pair of dragster to roar down the Raceway Park quarter mile on a hot Sunday afternoon, Dixon ran his Father's Day round-win streak to 21 after the Miller Lite/Lucas Oil rail powered to a run of 4.674 seconds at 320.43 mph. Troxel's dragster dropped cylinders mid-track and slowed to a 4.828-second elapsed time. It was Troxel's first opening-round defeat of the season.
"It was a big win, she's the point leader," Dixon said. "She's my teammate's (Tommy Johnson Jr.) wife and neighbor, but when the cars fire up, you're just racing someone. By qualifying, we had a better car, so I think everyone on the team felt we'd do well. By the numbers, it looked like they were trying to run a 4.50-something and the race track just wouldn't hold it. The first couple cars ahead of us smoked the tires and Donnie (Bender) took a conservative approach to just get the car down the race track and the car did just what he wanted it to do."
In a marquee match-up of the last four NHRA Top Fuel champions, Dixon used a tune-up from his Don Bender/Todd Smith brain trust to maneuver the hot Raceway Park quarter mile in 4.746 at 310.13 to collect consecutive Father's Day round win number 22. Schumacher's black rail lost traction to record a tire-smoking 5.300-second pass. It was the 42nd time that Dixon and Schumacher have met during eliminations. Dixon holds a 24-18 advantage over the driver of the Alan Johnson-tuned dragster.
"To be honest, we set the car up to run a 4.60," Dixon said. "They ran a 4.58 first round and the conditions were going away fast. As it turned out, our car dropped a cylinder down track and it ran a 4.74 and (Tony) Schumacher overpowered the race track. The conditions were pretty hot."
In the semifinals, Dixon battled rookie Top Fuel starlet Hillary Will. It was the first time the high-speed racers have met during eliminations. Dixon used a starting line advantage to score the wire-to-wire victory after the Miller Lite rail carded a run of 4.754 at 306.53 as the Miller-backed racer scored successive Father's Day win number 23. Will's dragster lost traction and slowed to a 10-second pass.
"She might be a rookie driver, but you're racing the Kalitta team," Dixon said. "They're very strong. You know they're capable of running really well. We attempted to fix the dropped cylinder, but we still had trouble with that. We went down the race track on seven cylinders and they spun the tires and we got the win."
In his seventh career final round at Raceway Park, Top Fuel racing's winningest active driver powered his Miller Lite rail to a performance of 4.825 at 299.73, but Dixon's dragster spun the tires near mid-track, allowing Fuller to race around and score the victory with a pass of 4.692-seconds. The final round result ended Dixon's Father's Day win streak at 23 rounds. It was the first time that Dixon and Fuller have met in the final round. Dixon remains fifth in the NHRA Top Fuel standings.
"The track conditions were still hot and the car was looking to run a little better than our first round and it just pulled the tires loose," Dixon said. "That was the same problem that other teams had during the day. On eight cylinders, the track didn't take it. (Rod) Fuller's team, in that sense, had the advantage because what our car did in the final, they did in the semis and they were still able to get the win. They were able to make the adjustment and come out and make a good run to get the win."
"Streak or no streak, when you get to the final round, you're disappointed when you lose. It obviously was Dick LaHaie's streak, not Larry Dixon's streak. It was a lot of fun while it lasted. We're going to try and improve upon our showing next week at St. Louis."
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 10th annual O'Reilly Midwest Nationals, June 23-25, at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. near St. Louis.