Baytown: Spring Nationals preview

15th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals, April 11-14, Houston Raceway Park * No Top Fuel driver has ever won the O'Reilly Spring Nationals two years in a row. The trend will continue in 2002 since last season's event winner, Mike Dunn, is now the...

15th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals, April 11-14, Houston Raceway Park

* No Top Fuel driver has ever won the O'Reilly Spring Nationals two years in a row. The trend will continue in 2002 since last season's event winner, Mike Dunn, is now the full-time color commentator for the NHRA telecasts on ESPN.

* In April '99 at Houston Raceway Park, Larry Dixon became the first NHRA driver to break the 4.5 second barrier with his historic 4.486 second run. Since then, there have been only four other drivers (Kenny Bernstein, Gary Scelzi, Dunn, and Doug Kalitta) to dip into the 4.4-second club. Since that pass in '99, there have been only nine other runs under 4.5 seconds. Of the 10 sub-4.5 second runs, only two have been set at Houston.

"I really enjoy going to Houston," said the 35-year-old Dixon. "Over the past few years we have been pretty successful there. (Crew chief) Dick LaHaie has a knack for getting the Miller Lite dragster down the track. I don't know why, and I don't know how, all that matters is that he is on our team."

Dixon has been to the Top Fuel final round at this event the last two years. He was the runner-up in 2001 to Dunn, and the winner over Tony Schumacher in 2000. In the discontinued event at HRP, Dixon had two final round appearances, a win over Scelzi in '99 and a runner-up to Scelzi in '97.

* Of the 14 Top Fuel winners crowned at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals, only three have gone on to win the NHRA POWERade championship. Kenny Bernstein won the event and the series crown in 1996, Joe Amato in 1992, and Gary Ormsby in 1989.

* Over the past six seasons, John Force Racing has had at least one Funny Car in the final round five times. John Force has two wins ('96, '99) and two runner-up finishes ('01, '98). Force teammate Tony Pedregon has two wins ('97-98) and one runner-up finish ('99). Pedregon's two wins have come against brother Cruz and team owner Force.

* Defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Savoie is the defending event winner at Houston. She can become only the second rider to ever win two straight at the Houston facility. The other rider to accomplish the feat was John Myers ('96-97) who was Savoie's teammate prior to his untimely death in 1998.

* Three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion Darrell Alderman recently ended a winless drought that dated back to 1997 with a win at Gainesville, Fla. He has made one final round appearance at HRP back in 1991 scoring the win over Scott Geoffrion.

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Darrell Alderman , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Scott Geoffrion