Larry Dixon collects second quarter balloting for Driver of The Year. INDIANAPOLIS (July 2) - The record-setting National Hot Rod Association season of Larry Dixon and the Snake Racing/Miller Lite team can now add the most prestigious...
Larry Dixon collects second quarter balloting for Driver of The Year.
INDIANAPOLIS (July 2) - The record-setting National Hot Rod Association season of Larry Dixon and the Snake Racing/Miller Lite team can now add the most prestigious motorsports award in the United States to their long list of accolades so far in 2002 after receiving the second quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR Award getting more first place votes than runner-up, NASCAR rookie Jimmie Johnson.
Determined by a panel consisting of 16 of the top motorsports journalists in the country and a fan vote on ESPN.com, Dixon collected eight first place votes and amassed a tally of 96 markers as compared to the 88 points earned by Johnson. Indianapolis 500 winner, Helio Castroneves, was third in the voting with 69 points.
Dixon, 35, dominated during the NHRA six-race stretch from the April 28, Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals through the Pontiac Excitement Nationals on June 16, with his Miller Lite team advancing to six consecutive final rounds, winning four of the events (Bristol, Tenn., Atlanta, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio). In that period, he won 22 rounds of competitive eliminations and averaged .916 for his second quarter effort. During that time, he also grabbed the No. 1 qualifying position three times (Bristol, Tenn., Englishtown, N.J. and Topeka, Ks.). Overall for 2002, Dixon has scored seven wins and has made it to final round in 10 of the first 12 NHRA national events as the NHRA POWERade season reaches it halfway point.
"I think my first impression was it felt really good to have the writers and the people of the media look at our sport, pay attention and recognize drag racing as one of the premier forms of motorsports along with the open wheel divisions and the NASCAR Winston Cup series," said a positive feeling Dixon. "I'm very proud to be a part of the NHRA drag racing scene and for this elite panel to look at it this way is great." As only the second NHRA driver ever to be recognized by the panel and the leading vote recipient for the second quarter, Dixon adds his name alongside that of 11-time NHRA POWERade Funny Car champ, John Force, who won the 1996 DRIVER OF THE YEAR award.
"It's a big deal when you compare it to when Force did it back in '96. He had such a phenomenal year that season. We certainly have gotten off to a real good start so far this year. For our Miller Lite/Snake Racing team, we know our job is only half done. As far as the racetrack goes, we're in position to win a championship and now we've got to keep this pace going to get what we want, which is the POWERade Top Fuel championship."
Dixon's Miller Lite dragster, tuned by veteran crew chief, Dick LaHaie is currently in first place in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel championship and is at the helm with a 157-point lead as they head into the second half of drag racing term. As the fortunate one who gets behind the wheel of the 6,000-horsepower dragster, Dixon is quick to note that his success as a driver comes as a result of his team owner, Don Prudhomme assembling such a great crew of mechanics.
"I know it's a driver of the year thing, but I really think it's a reflection of how good everybody on our team is performing this year," said Dixon. "It isn't just me. If I don't have a good horse to ride, I'm going to finish last in the Kentucky Derby. It just shows how great our crew is performing. Dick LaHaie has made some great calls that have put us in position to win a lot of races so far this year. I think that it's just an indication of how great of a job everyone on our Miller Lite team is doing this year."
CART points leader Cristiano da Matta finished fourth, followed by World of Outlaws driver, Steve Kinser in fifth. Winston Cup driver, Tony Stewart was sixth. A total of 21 drivers received votes.
The DRIVER OF THE YEAR title is distinctive because it is the only American award that encompasses all the racing series. In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9,6,4,3,2,1 basis.
Dixon and the Snake Racing/Miller Lite team continue their assault on the NHRA Top Fuel POWERade championship in two weeks when they battle at Bandimere Speedway for the running of the 23rd annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver on July 21.
Host of NHRA POWERade drag racing series for ESPN2, Marty Reid will make the formal presentation at the Snake Racing-East headquarters in Brownsburg, Indiana, with an interview with Larry Dixon, which will air tonight at 6:30 EDT on RPM2Night.