Dixon Returns To Site of Qualifying Accident; Eyes Charge Towards Third NHRA Title BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 26, 2004) -- Race teams deal with adversity on a week-by-week, race-by-race basis. However, certain situations are somewhat more challenging...
Dixon Returns To Site of Qualifying Accident; Eyes Charge Towards Third NHRA Title
BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 26, 2004) -- Race teams deal with adversity on a week-by-week, race-by-race basis. However, certain situations are somewhat more challenging than they typical engine service or broken throttle cable.
Last year, Larry Dixon entered the final Top Fuel qualifying session at Bristol Dragway with his Miller Lite dragster comfortably qualified in the No. 2 spot with an elapsed time of 4.532 seconds.
Near the end of the quarter mile on his final qualifying effort, Dixon's dragster went out of control hitting the left guard wall, before veering across the track and backing into the right retaining wall. The NHRA champion was uninjured, but the Miller-backed rail that he drove to two wins at the first five NHRA races of 2003 was destroyed.
"I was pretty upset about the crash," Dixon said. "We lost a perfectly good race car through no fault of our own. To take a car, wad it up and throw it in the trash, nobody wants to do that; especially that good of a race car. That was the frustrating part."
As a result, Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite crew, led by Dick LaHaie and Don Bender, embarked on an all-night thrash to prepare the backup car for Sunday's final eliminations. Dixon advanced to round two at Bristol, but maybe even more remarkable is the fact that one week later in Commerce, Ga., Dixon raced to his third victory of 2003 and regained the Top Fuel points lead for the remainder of the 2003 NHRA campaign, racing to his second consecutive NHRA championship.
"I was proud, not so much of the win the next weekend, as much as overcoming what we did as a team," Dixon said. "That was a lot to go through and it didn't ruin our focus. It made for a lot of extra hours at the race shop and miles on the road, but it was cool to be able to get back in the winner's circle so quickly, even with a different race car."
The two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion looks to begin his charge towards a third straight series title and return to the Bristol Dragway winner's circle when the NHRA makes its annual visit to Thunder Valley, April 30-May 2, for the fourth annual O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals.
"We've had success there in the past and we're looking forward to going to Bristol and having a good weekend of racing," Dixon said. "Bristol is as well known for racing as Indianapolis and it's one of the few tracks on the East Coast that my dad raced at back in the 1960s and '70s. So, I have memories of going there as a kid. Certainly, it's over gone a facelift, but it's still Thunder Valley."
Dixon aims to become the first driver in the four-year history of the O'Reilly Spring Nationals to earn a second victory at Thunder Valley and give his two children, Donovan and Alanna, some memories of their own to look back on in a few decades.