Topeka: Larry Dixon - one step ahead

Dixon aiming to stay one step ahead of the pack. TOPEKA, Kan. - Larry Dixon and Dick LaHaie probably don't even know that they agree to disagree. Dixon insists the Miller Lite Dragster is off to a great start - even better than last season....

Dixon aiming to stay one step ahead of the pack.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Larry Dixon and Dick LaHaie probably don't even know that they agree to disagree. Dixon insists the Miller Lite Dragster is off to a great start - even better than last season. LaHaie insists the car is less consistent than last year and needs work.

If there is one thing Dixon and LaHaie agree on, however, it is their commitment to earning a Top Fuel championship. The hunt for a title will continue at the 14th annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX at Heartland Park Topeka, May 23-26. Bernstein, Tony Pedregon and Ron Krisher are the defending winners in their respective categories for the $1.8 million race, the ninth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

With LaHaie tuning the car and Dixon pulling the driving duties, the blue beer car finished a close second to Kenny Bernstein and the red Budweiser King dragster in the battle for the 2001 championship. The 2002 season, however, has been a different story.

In the first eight races of the 2001 season, Dixon had collected one victory and one runner-up finish. In the first eight events of 2002, Dixon and LaHaie have turned their efforts into five wins and two runner-up finishes.

So, Dixon is right.
"We've had a better start than I could have imagined," Dixon said. "We are looking to win rounds and races. If you can win enough of them, then you get awarded a lot of points and that helps you win a championship."

In 2001, the Miller Lite Dragster made 86 runs, with an average run of 4.598. In 2002, in the first 19 runs of the season, that same car is averaging a 4.678 elapsed time.

So, LaHaie is right too.
"We're not nearly as consistent as last year," LaHaie said. "Our car was very consistent last year, but you have to take into account the tire change that we are working with this season. We have made a lot of changes to the race car to enable us to work around the new tires.

"I think the only reason we look so good right now is because the other teams are having a lot of problems with the tire change. That is the situation more than anything we are doing."

Dixon and LaHaie also agree that the team has to avoid going off the track they are riding now. While they seem to have a better handle on the new tires, it doesn't mean the rest of the field can't catch up.

"We are going to keep doing the same thing we have been doing," LaHaie said. "We have a very good program with a very good team of guys working on this car. Everything is meticulously prepared and we have to make enough changes as it is just to keep up with the track and atmospheric conditions."

Dixon said that he can't put into words what the team is doing to make the car run consistently better than the other teams for now. He doesn't want that to change, either.

"They don't cut that check until November," Dixon said. "Everybody on this team put forth a tremendous effort last season and it wasn't good enough. Over the winter we spent a lot of time working on all of our weak areas. So far, it's working. We just have to keep doing what has been working for us."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Ron Krisher , Dick LaHaie