CLAREMONT, IND (August 31) Current NHRA Winston Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon kicked off this weekend's historic 47th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals with a pass of 4.585 seconds at 316.97 mph in Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster to...
CLAREMONT, IND (August 31) Current NHRA Winston Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon kicked off this weekend's historic 47th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals with a pass of 4.585 seconds at 316.97 mph in Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster to qualify in the No. 3 position after the first day of qualifying at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Friday evening was filled with revelry and fanfare surrounding the marquis event of the NHRA's 50th Anniversary season, as New York Yankees team owner and former Top Fuel driver Darryl Gwynn, returned to the driver's seat in a specially built electric powered dragster. Also making the first round of qualifying unique was the return of Shirley Muldowney and "Big Daddy" Don Garlits.
Dixon and his fellow Top Fuel pilots finally got their shot at the newly resurfaced track at approximately 9:30 PM, and they did not disappoint. Crew Chief Dick LaHaie tuned Dixon to his lap of 4.585 seconds one of five 4.5-second passes during the Top Fuel session. For Dixon it was a special night.
"Dick wanted to go out tonight and run a time between 4.55 and 4.58 seconds, and that's exactly what we did," said Dixon. "From this point on we can start working on raceday stuff. We've got a night session Saturday and if the conditions and right and we are paired upright, maybe we can go for the low qualifier position. You can't run the final round before you run the first round, so we have just got to take one run at a time."
"The track is great. It was awesome last week during testing and it is awesome now. I think in the heat of the day if it gets hot and humid, you won't see the cars slow down as much on this type of surface compared to earlier races."
"For me being a kid growing up in drag racing, building models of Shirley and Garlits and to see them out there running, it's kinda like playing a pick-up game with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. For me as a drag racing fan, to see them come out here and still get it done, it's pretty cool. It lets me know that I still have about 40 years of lifespan left in my driving career."
Dixon's career best finish at Indianapolis was his win during his 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year season. Last season he recorded a second round finish to Tony Schumacher after qualifying fifth. The Miller Lite Driver sits on top of the Top Fuel points race with an eight-point lead over Kenny Bernstein. Dixon has reached six final rounds this season, including four wins (Gainesville, Columbus, Denver, Brainerd).
Four qualifying sessions remain before Monday's elimination round. Saturday will see two sessions scheduled for 2:30 and 7:30 PM (CT) while Sunday sees sessions at 12:45 and 4:35 PM. Monday's final rounds begin at 10:30 AM.
Television coverage begins on ESPN2 with early qualifying rounds on Saturday (Noon-2:00 PM ET). Qualifying action continues Sunday (1:00-2:30 PM) on ESPN 2. Early elimination rounds will air on ESPN (11:00AM-1:00 PM) with coverage continuing later that day (4:00-7:00 PM).