Dixon Eyes Second Career 4.4-Second Pass At Ultra-Quick Houston Facility BAYTOWN, Texas (April 12, 2004) -- A little more than five years ago, two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon made NHRA history at Houston Raceway Park. On...
Dixon Eyes Second Career 4.4-Second Pass At Ultra-Quick Houston Facility
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 12, 2004) -- A little more than five years ago, two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon made NHRA history at Houston Raceway Park. On Friday, April 9, 1999, the 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year powered his Miller Lite dragster to the first 4.4-second elapsed time in NHRA history when he covered the HRP quarter mile in 4.486 seconds.
"I was pretty happy with the number," Dixon said. "The first pass on that Friday, we ran a 4.51 and the engine dropped a few cylinders early in the run. We knew that if we fixed that, it was possible to not only run a 4.40, but to get the national record. We came back and the car stuck and we were the first car to run under 4.5-seconds in the quarter mile."
Some five years later, Dixon aims to repeat the accomplishment and clock his second career sub-4.5-second pass when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes the first of two visits to the Lone Star State for the 17th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals, April 15-18, at Houston Raceway Park.
"At the time, (crew chief) Dale (Armstrong) was very motivated on wanting to be the first to run a 4.40," Dixon said. "He had been involved in breaking a lot of barriers and he was really motivated for us to do that. As a driver, you tend to get caught up in that. It was great for us to be the first, but we didn't win the race. Dick LaHaie tuned (Doug) Herbert to the win running 4.60s all weekend. I had a lot of respect for how LaHaie did things. I would have been happier to have run 4.60s and win the race.
"Later that year, Gary Scelzi and Alan Johnson ran a 4.480 at Houston and took the record from us. LaHaie, who was with our team then, tuned us to 4.50s and we won the race. We've won a lot of races and a few championships not running 4.40s, so I'm probably more proud of that."
Dixon, a two-time winner at the Baytown facility, has heard the cries from experts and fans alike regarding his lack of 4.4-second performances.
"I'm just a racer, not a critic," Dixon said. "I just go out there and try to do the best I can. I know our team does the best with what we've got and we've been somewhat successful to date."
The Baytown track has a reputation for being one of the quickest and fastest drag strips on the NHRA circuit and deservedly so. The first two 4.4-second runs in NHRA history were clocked on the HRP quarter mile, and with the right weather conditions this weekend, there's an excellent chance that the Miller Lite dragster will again be a 4.40 race car.
"If the conditions are right, there will be a lot of cars running 4.40s and I hope we're one of them, but I'd rather win the race," Dixon said. "Nobody has run a 4.40 in the final round yet this season. And when summer gets here, you'll have a better shot of running 5.40s than 4.40s."