CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 30, 2004) - Two weeks ago in Memphis, Tenn., Larry Dixon drove his Miller Lite dragster to the winner's circle and in doing so equaled his racing idol Don Garlits with 35 career NHRA Top Fuel victories. The two-time ...
CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 30, 2004) - Two weeks ago in Memphis, Tenn., Larry Dixon drove his Miller Lite dragster to the winner's circle and in doing so equaled his racing idol Don Garlits with 35 career NHRA Top Fuel victories.
The two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion and his Miller Lite crew didn't stop to rest on their laurels, making the 480-mile trip to Indianapolis Raceway Park to spend two days testing to improve the performance of the Miller Lite dragster to ensure a strong run at the final six races of the 2004 NHRA season, beginning with the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Sept. 1-6, at I.R.P.
"The main objective at testing is to make the car run better," Dixon said. "For the conditions at Memphis, we had a good setup after the first round. That's Memphis, Tennessee, we're 500 miles away from that place, that's why we tested at Indy, to try and work on the setup for this track."
Dixon has had the right setup on race day at the Nationals two times in his nine races as a driver at I.R.P., winning in his rookie season in 1995, and six years later when crew chief Dick LaHaie earned his first Nationals triumph tuning Dixon to his second career U.S. Nationals victory.
"Both of my Indy wins are meaningful in their own way," Dixon said. "Winning on Snake's (Don Prudhomme) crew in 1989 when we doubled-up to win the Skoal Showdown and the race is still my Indy highlight."
Having the right setup is only half the battle. Surviving the six-day grind and all the events and appearances leading up to the race is an entirely different animal. With sponsors, family and friends in and out of the pit area all weekend long, keeping the race crew and driver focused on that job of winning rounds is as equally as important as making the right call on the tune-up of the Miller Lite car.
"As soon as the car starts up, nobody can talk to me at that point," Dixon said. "That's my world and my time. I'll be ready when the engine fires. There are less distractions at this race then there are at Pomona (Calif.) for me because I grew up in Los Angeles. I don't feel like I have a home court advantage or anything since I live in Indy. It's like all the races, you just try and go out there and do well."