Sonoma: Larry Dixon qualifies third

From The Snake Pit Larry Dixon & Miller Lite Dragster Qualify Among Top Three For 13th Time This Season With No. 3 Effort At Sears Point SONOMA, CA (Aug. 4) -- Larry Dixon and Don Prudhomme Racing's Miller Lite Dragster qualified No. 3 Saturday...

From The Snake Pit
Larry Dixon & Miller Lite Dragster Qualify Among Top Three For 13th Time This Season With No. 3 Effort At Sears Point

SONOMA, CA (Aug. 4) -- Larry Dixon and Don Prudhomme Racing's Miller Lite Dragster qualified No. 3 Saturday for Sunday's elimination rounds of the 14th Annual Fram Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway and are in position to take over the Top Fuel points lead as they trail leader Kenny Bernstein by just 16 points.

Dixon began the final day of qualifying in Northern California as the No. 3 qualifier based on his lap of 4.594 seconds at 314.83 mph recorded on Friday night.  Saturday's weather conditions differed drastically from Friday as the cool winds and track temperatures were replaced with heat and a sticky racing surface.  Dixon aborted his first lap of the day as the Miller Lite Dragster dropped a cylinder and recorded atime of 6.439 seconds at 132.05 mph.

The Miller Lite Team made the most of the final qualifying session of the weekend as Dixon posted the quickest lap in Top Fuel of the day.  Dixon was forced to rely on his Raybestos brakes in order to slow the 6,000 horsepower machine when his parachutes failed to open, but not before posting low elapsed time of the day with a run of 4.649 at 311.56 mph.

For his efforts, Dixon will meet No. 14 qualifier Don Sosenka (5.583 seconds at 230.25 mph) in the opening round, marking the first time the two Top Fuel pilots have met.  The Miller Lite Team currently owns the longest current opening round win streak in Top Fuel with 16 consecutive first round victories.

"Denver is very hard and Seattle is also difficult at times when it comes to trying to get the car down the racetrack," said Miller Lite Crew Chief Dick LaHaie.  "The two tracks are very difficult to get down because they are so different in terms of altitude, but it never ceases to amaze me how hard it is to get down the track at Sonoma because of the short, 80-foot concrete pad.  We usually race with 550-600 foot pads, so we really have to jump through hoops to get down the track here."

With points leading and No. 1 qualifier Bernstein receiving an opening round bye due to a 15-car Top Fuel field, LaHaie also believes there is some added pressure to succeed on Sunday. 

"We need to be very cautious tomorrow," said LaHaie.  "We will have the thought in mind that they will get an automatic win in the first round, but we wouldn't even meet him until the semifinals anyway. We cannot just be concerned about the second round, but we can't look past the first round either.  We can't go out there and smoke the tires; we need to get down the track.  We have been able to get down both lanes this weekend and hopefully we can do that tomorrow."

Dixon is in search of his first win at Sonoma as his career best effort at Sears Point was a runner-up finish to Doug Kalitta last season.  Prior to 2000, Dixon had never won a round of elimination racing at Sonoma. The Miller Lite Driver enters tomorrow's eliminations sitting second in the points race, just 16 behind leader Kenny Bernstein. Dixon has reached five final rounds this season, including wins at Gainesville, Fla, Columbus, Ohio and Denver.

ESPN 2 will televise Sunday's elimination rounds from 4:00-6:00 PM T and Elater from 11:00 PM-Midnight ET.

- www.snakeracing.com

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Doug Kalitta , Don Prudhomme , Dick LaHaie