Bristol: Finals summary

Dixon, Bazemore and Johnson take the wins at The Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals. BRISTOL, Tenn. - Whit Bazemore is not out of the points race just yet. Bazemore beat Gary Densham in the Funny Car category for his first win of the season...

Dixon, Bazemore and Johnson take the wins at The Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals.

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Whit Bazemore is not out of the points race just yet. Bazemore beat Gary Densham in the Funny Car category for his first win of the season during the second annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Raceway on Sunday.

Bazemore picked up the 11th win of his career driving his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird to a 4.936-second run at 310.27 mph to beat Densham's 6.400 at 141.67 in Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang.

Larry Dixon and Warren Johnson also won in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the sixth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Preseason favorite Bazemore finished the 2001 season by earning nine No. 1 qualifiers in the last 12 races of the year. The 2002 season, however, has started slowly.

"It's tremendous to get the win," Bazemore said. "We have been struggling with this team but this is still the earliest I have ever won a race. That is key because it is difficult to contend for a championship if you don't start winning races until July."

Funny Car points leader John Force helped Bazemore pick up more points by losing in the first round. Force's Castrol GTX Ford Mustang smoked the tires early and went 12.760 at 71.42 against Tommy Johnson Jr's 5.058 at 297.16 in his Skoal Blue Chevy Camaro.

"We made up about 70 points (Sunday)," Bazemore said. "You can't say that you don't look at the points because we do. Force doesn't go out in the first round often and we took advantage of that. We really needed that.

"Hopefully this will carry over. Now we just need to get ready for Atlanta."

Dixon beat Darrell Russell to earn his fourth Top Fuel victory of the season, and 20th of his career. Dixon drove his Miller Lite Dragster to a 4.644 at 317.87 to beat Russell's 4.977 at 268.01 in the Billstein Engine Flush Dragster.

Of the six races this season, Dixon has been in the final round all but one time. That one race was Houston, where he lost in the first round for the first time in 30 races.

The race for the event crowns was delayed for nearly two hours, as a brief rain and hail storm soaked the track. Water was Dixon's only concern this weekend, even after the first round loss in Houston.

"It was a neat day, this was fun," Dixon said. "The only thing I was worried about was as heavy as the rain was, whether the track conditions would hold. I was worried about the grip on the track. Obviously it had enough for us in the final round.

"Just winning the first round was a big uphill battle, just to get it out of the way. We just needed to come here and get back on the horse and ride."

Warren Johnson became the sixth different Pro Stock driver to pick up the victory this season. Johnson earned the 88th win of his career with a 6.986 pass at 198.41 in his GM Performance Pontiac Grand Am to beat Ron Krisher's 6.975 at 198.15 in his Eagle One Chevy Cavalier.

"I guess you call that parity," Johnson said. "I would like to say that we can break out and win three or four of these things. But when you get to tracks like this and they are prepared so well and there isn't a difference in lane choice, you really have to be on your best game."

Johnson is the defending champion in the Pro Stock class, but has yet to get a dominating handle on the car like he has in the past.

"You have days when you can't hit a home run and then there are days when you can hit three of them," Johnson said. "I think we have turned a corner on our consistency, which is what we need more than anything else. We are not the fastest car out there, but we are becoming more consistent."

The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, May 2-5.

-nhra-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Ron Krisher , Tommy Johnson , Gary Densham