POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 29, 2004) -- Two-time consecutive NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite Top Fuel team's quest for an unprecedented third consecutive victory at the Winternationals fell short when the 33-time NHRA event winner was defeated in round two by Doug Kalitta.
Dixon and first round opponent Doug Herbert were the first pair of dragsters to make a run down the historic Pomona Raceway quarter-mile Sunday morning with Dixon's Miller Lite rail coming out on top. After losing traction early, Dixon peddled the Miller Lite dragster and drove to a run of 5.832 seconds at 247.20 mph to defeat Herbert's slower 17.888 at 49.19.
"I was happy to get the round win because it gave us another run to work out the new combination in our race car," Dixon said. "Every run we make gives us new information to help. Whether it's a good or bad run, it's all good information. We only have five full runs on this new combination so far."
In the second round, Dixon and the Miller Lite team suffered a setback at the hands of Doug Kalitta. Kalitta posted a time of 4.482 at 330.15 to hold of Dixon's 4.598, 316.15 effort from the Miller Lite car. Tony Schumacher raced to the final round victory after Kalitta's dragster broke during the burnout at season-opening event.
"We have some catching up to do, but I like the direction that we're going," Dixon said. "Every run that we make helps us to get better. Going up to the startling line and putting up a good number on the scoreboard is going to help you win races. Do you have to run 4.40s to win races? This weekend yeah, but at St. Louis or Columbus and during the summer you're not going to run 4.40s.
"We're not just laying back resting on our 4.59s hoping that we'll win races that way. We're working real hard to make the car go quicker and faster every run down the race track. The more runs we get down the race track, the sooner we'll get there."
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 20th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals, March 5-7, at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix.
ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights from the CSK Nationals beginning at 11 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, March 6 and show three hours of final eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 7.