DIXON WINS ALL-TOYOTA NHRA TOP FUEL FINAL AT PHOENIX
TORRANCE, Calif. (Oct. 16, 2011) – Larry Dixon edged Antron Brown by just .008 seconds to win an all-Toyota Top Fuel final at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway Sunday. The victory was the 15th for a Toyota-sponsored Top Fuel driver in 20 races this season. Dixon, who won the pole on Saturday, defeated Terry McMillen, Bob Vandergriff and Steve Torrence on the way to the finals. With the victory, the reigning Top Fuel champion jumped from fourth to second in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs with just two races remaining. While Brown didn’t leave the track with a victory, he’ll be leaving Arizona with the series point lead after navigating through a difficult draw that saw him beat Del Worsham in the second round and Tony Schumacher in the semi-finals. He also was victorious over David Grubnic in the opening round to give him round wins over three of the top-eight drivers in points. With the strong showing Brown now leads Dixon by 15 points heading to Las Vegas where he won in April.
Worsham and Shawn Langdon each advanced to the second round today. Worsham, who qualified third, knocked off Dom Lagana before being eliminated by Brown. Langdon defeated Rod Fuller in the opening round before losing a tight competition with Schumacher in round two. In Funny Car competition, number one qualifier Cruz Pedregon was upset in the opening round by Jeff Arend. The early exit dropped Pedregon to fourth in the points chase. Alexis DeJoria also fell in the first round in her Funny Car debut after qualifying an impressive eighth on Saturday. The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs has just two races remaining with the Nevada Nationals next up, Oct. 28-30 at The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway before closing out the 2011 campaign in Pomona, Nov. 12-14.
Larry Dixon, Al-Anabi Toyota Top Fuel Dragster: “It’s been a long time since we won. You never know when you’re going to get the next one. Antron does such a great job in the car, and they had their car running really well. Obviously, (crew chiefs) Jason (McCulloch) and Ronnie (Thompson) didn’t take them lightly. We made our best run in the final round, we needed every bit of it. It was really nice to go some rounds today and get back in this points deal. It’s nice to win, but to have a shot at a championship is a big deal, a really big deal. Before the weekend, I was 108 points out of first. I told Mike Dunn on Friday that if we could come out of here 60-some points out of first, I’d be thrilled because you have a shot. We obviously made up a lot more ground than that. You never know when your opportunities are going to happen so it’s nice to be able to take advantage of them. I’ve lost so many tight races this year, and it’s nice to be on the right side of one. This win got us back in the game. It’s great to win for the team.”
Shawn Langdon, Lucas Oil/Speedco Toyota Top Fuel Dragster: “It all started in qualifying. The higher you qualify, the less chance you have of facing one of the top cars in the first round. That's what has bitten us the last few races. We didn't get into the top half, where we'd like to be, but we improved and that's important. The guys did a great job in Round 1. And really we couldn't have done much better against Schumacher in that (left) lane. I mean, the two cars right in front of us both smoked the tires. At least we made him earn it. I'm pretty pleased with my driving also. My reaction times were a lot better today and I'm feeling like I'm back where I want to be."