KENT, Wash. (July 19, 2004) - The 2004 NHRA campaign has been all about adapting for two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite race team. After enjoying three spectacular seasons where Dixon raced to 23 wins en route to...
KENT, Wash. (July 19, 2004) - The 2004 NHRA campaign has been all about adapting for two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite race team.
After enjoying three spectacular seasons where Dixon raced to 23 wins en route to consecutive titles (2002-03), the championship crew made sweeping changes to the Miller Lite dragster that would hopefully benefit them in the long run. After changing the engine and clutch combination, Dixon commented, "the only thing the same on the race car is me and the chassis."
After adapting to the new setback blower setup during the first half of the 2004 NHRA season, Dixon and crew have moved into the top five of the points chase and collected a win in New Jersey in mid-June, the 34th of Dixon's career.
This week, Dixon will look drive his Dick LaHaie-tuned dragster to a second straight victory in The Evergreen State when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its only visit to the Pacific Northwest, July 23-25, for the 17th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
"We won at Seattle last year, that's always a good memory," Dixon said. "That would definitely have to be the highlight of my career there. We had such a strong race car and won after qualifying No. 1. It was a really good weekend for our team."
The Miller Lite crew will again have to adapt as the Pacific Raceway drag strip was resurfaced during the off season and the NHRA implemented rule changes that will limit the Top Fuel and Funny Car teams to 85-percent nitromethane in the fuel mixture. After competing in the altitude of Denver last weekend, where teams experienced the newly required Goodyear tire for the first time, the crews will encounter drastically different conditions at Pacific Raceways, which has a listed elevation of 280 feet.
"We won't have any idea of how the new concrete launch pad will work until we get there," Dixon said. "You have no idea how the track is prepped and how the new concrete meets the old asphalt. You just have to take a wait and see approach and that's what we'll do.
"The change to the 85-percent nitromethane won't affect me. On race day if the car happens to drop a cylinder, it's the same if it has 90 or 100-percent nitro, you're not going to lift. Our goal is still the same, to qualify well and try to win the race again this season."
You can argue who the best tuner is in the Top Fuel ranks, but near the top of each list would be Dick LaHaie. LaHaie, a five-time NHRA champion as a driver/crew chief, will again have to adapt to changes, but with a proven track record that is second-to-none, there's an excellent chance that the Dixon/LaHaie combo will make their way back to the winner's circle at Pacific Raceways.