Baytown: Larry Dixon elimination day summary

From The Snake Pit Larry Dixon & Miller Lite Dragster remain points leader after early setback at NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals. Dixon sees Top Fuel's longest first round win streak snapped at 30. BAYTOWN, TEX. (April 14) - NHRA POWERade Drag...

From The Snake Pit
Larry Dixon & Miller Lite Dragster remain points leader after early setback at NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals.

Dixon sees Top Fuel's longest first round win streak snapped at 30.

BAYTOWN, TEX. (April 14) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon saw his amazing string of 30 consecutive opening-round wins come to an end Sunday as a mechanical malfunction gave Don Prudhomme's Snake Racing Miller Lite Dragster a first-round finish at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.

After dominating the first four races of the season with three wins and four final round appearances, Dixon and his Miller Lite crew fell victim to a mechanical malfunction in the clutch system and lost traction almost immediately from the hit of the throttle. Dixon's opponent, Mitch King, hazed the tires and slowed. Dixon pedaled feverishly and nearly overtook the coasting King, however he simply ran out of racetrack as his time of 7.175 seconds (223.65 mph) fell to King's 6.314-second/172.72 mph pass.

"It appears as though that on the burnout, it broke the pilot stub off the end of the input shaft, " concluded crew chief Dick LaHaie after investigation. "That's what keeps the input shaft centered with the clutch disc on it, and without that, everything gets oscillating, off-center, and completely confuses the clutch. This is mechanics and everything is mechanical. Anything can happen at any time. That's basically drag racing. You are very fortunate if you don't have any of those kinds of problems, but unfortunately there appeared to be problems. We try to check stuff to the best of our ability to make sure that things don't happen, but they still can happen. You have to have a certain amount of luck and it wasn't with us today."

"Obviously we were disappointed to lose in the first round," said Dixon. "Nobody that qualified for this event wants to or plans to lose in the first round. Everybody's here to win and not everybody can. I think that's a good example to show that whoever pulls up to the starting line and is able to stage the car has a 50-50 shot at winning the race. We've been underdogs before, and maybe we weren't in that role, but you still have to go down there and make a good run to get to the next round."

Coming into Sunday's race, Dixon and crew chief Dick LaHaie enjoyed the longest opening round win streak in Top Fuel competition with 30 straight wins dating back to the Matco Tools Supernationals (Oct. 29, 2000), also held at Houston Raceway Park.

"I think that was an accomplishment for everybody on the team and myself included," said Dixon. "There have been a lot of times when we should have got beat but we were still able to get the win, so to be able to go 30 races in a row was great. I wish we could have gone 50 races in a row because that would have carried us through the end of the year. It wasn't meant to be. Now we just need to try and start a new streak and go from there."

Dixon and the Miller Lite bunch have a total of 486 points and maintain a 65-point lead over second place Kenny Bernstein. The team will regroup at the Don Prudhomme Racing-Indianapolis shop as the NHRA POWERade tour takes a week off before returning to action at the Second Annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals (April 26-28) at Bristol, Tenn.

- www.snakeracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Don Prudhomme , Dick LaHaie , Mitch King