TOYOTA TOP FUELER DIXON WINS WINTERNATIONALS POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2009) -- After failing to qualify for last year's NHRA Winternationals, Larry Dixon stormed back this season to win the 50th annual Winternationals at the Auto Club Raceway at...
TOYOTA TOP FUELER DIXON WINS WINTERNATIONALS
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2009) -- After failing to qualify for last year's NHRA Winternationals, Larry Dixon stormed back this season to win the 50th annual Winternationals at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The Toyota-sponsored Dixon had the fastest pass in each of the four elimination runs today, eventually edging out Doug Kalitta in the final for his fourth career Winternationals title. Earlier in the event, Dixon eliminated Tony Schumacher in the most exciting run of the day in a virtual dead-heat in the semi-finals.
A year ago, Dixon's Winternationals run ended with his failing to qualify for Sunday's action with the brand-new Al-Anabi team. He earned just 10 points that weekend. In contrast, he'll leave this weekend's event with 105 points and the series' points lead.
In addition to Dixon, all five of the remaining Toyota-sponsored cars qualified for today's eliminations, with four of the five advancing to the quarter-finals. Del Worsham and Cruz Pedregon each advanced to the Funny Car quarter-finals, while Antron Brown and Shawn Langdon also advanced to the second round. Morgan Lucas fell short in the round of 16 after registering a strong fifth-place qualifying effort. Pedregon registered the biggest upset of the day, eliminating the top qualifier Robert Hight after qualifying 16th.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Series resumes next weekend in Phoenix, Ariz., for the 26th annual Arizona Nationals, Feb. 19-21.
- Today's win was the fourth for Larry Dixon at the NHRA Winternationals (2003, 2002 and 1998) and the fifth of his career at Pomona (he also won in Nov. 2008).
- Larry Dixon's victory is the 49th Top Fuel win of his career, good for third on NHRA's all-time Top Fuel career victories list. The win also is his sixth since joining the then newly-formed Al-Anabi Racing team last season.
- Larry Dixon's final appearance was the 94th of his career.
Larry Dixon, Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel Dragster: "Our car ran flawless all day. In that semi-final with Tony Schumacher where we both ran the same ETs and the same speeds, I just got a little bit better jump off the line just to give us the opportunity to get in the final round and be able to win this event. This race is as big as the Daytona 500 and the fact that it's the 50th year of it and all the hype -- they're passing out gold-plated Wally's - it's all I could think about since the Monday after last year's finals. A year ago when we came here, we had a lot of great talent in our team and a lot of capable equipment and Toyota's support, but we weren't a "team" yet. It just took some time for everybody to gel. Now the team knows me and I know them, and I know the car. We started getting our groove on in the summer and came on, but we fell just a couple of points short of winning the championship. Now we're getting it all together."
Morgan Lucas, GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil Top Fuel Dragster: "I feel we've advanced a lot of ways from when we came here a year ago. Last year, we really had a lot of lucky breaks in the early part of the season that got us through a lot of situations. I'm positive that once we get our car figured out in these warm weather situations that we're going to do well. We're making a lot more power than we did last year and now we need to figure out how to control it. Both cars qualified in the upper half and that's what we strive for - and because of it we left here with some extra points for qualifying. But we always want to strive for more. I can't say we're leaving here with our head really high, but we're not going to be down either. With all the great sponsors we've got with us, Geico, Lucas Oil and Toyota, we have to represent."
Shawn Langdon, Lucas Oil/Speedco Top Fuel Dragster: "We ran well today. In the first round we were third low time and moved into the quarterfinals, which is significant to start the year off. We began the weekend qualifying second, then we got a little too aggressive. We backed it off a little for the first round this morning and ran a 3.85. The car was doing what we wanted it to do. In the quarters, we were in that left lane, which was a little slippery and we actually ran fastest for the lane. Unfortunately, we fell back in qualifying to eighth and came up against the #1 qualifier. (Cory McClenathan) and we didn't want to smoke the tires and beat ourselves, which is what we did the last two times we were here. We ran well and actually were faster than the fast times in two of the heats. Unfortunately, we fell back in qualifying to eighth and came up against Cory. With a little luck in qualifying and the draw, we might have gone to the finals. We've made some huge progress since last year -- it's night and day with the team. We've gone from a team that kind of just showed up for the races to a team that has two cars that can not only win races, but contend for a championship."
Cruz Pedregon, Snap-On Toyota Camry Solara Funny Car: "The Snap-on Toyota Camry is showing some signs of progress. We're still breaking in some new people and everyone is still learning. The first two rounds today we started to gain some consistency. We're leaving here with a quarterfinal appearance and we're excited that we're starting to see some progress. (About falling off after leading and looking like he was heading to the semi-finals during his quarter-final run). The issue was dropping a cylinder. These cars have about 1000 horsepower per cylinder, so when you lose one it's pretty tough, especially with the guy in the next lane breathing down your neck. Right now, we're looking forward to getting to Phoenix."
Del Worsham, Al-Anabi Racing Toyota Camry Solara Funny Car: "We learned quite a bit this weekend. We have a new chassis and our new bodies mounted to it, so we're still learning. We made some good runs, but we also struggled at times as well. We know what our problems are now. We hadn't been on a track near this hot in testing, so I think the experience we gained should help us out in the near future. Comparing today to a year ago here, the Al-Anabi Racing Toyota Camry is definitely ahead of where we were and I feel pretty confident heading into next weekend."
-source: toyota motorsports