JOLIET, IL (June 4) - Making his fourth final round appearance out of the last five races this season, as well as his second runner-up finish in as many weeks, Larry Dixon piloted the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster to the first ...
JOLIET, IL (June 4) - Making his fourth final round appearance out of the last five races this season, as well as his second runner-up finish in as many weeks, Larry Dixon piloted the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster to the first runner-up finish of his career at Route 66 Raceway and moved to within 60 points of the lead in the NHRA top fuel points race. In the 22nd final of his six-year driving career, Dixon posted his second quickest lap of the day with a time of 4.702 seconds at 313.07 mph, however it was Gary Scelzi's pass of 4.642 seconds at 314.57 mph that would prove to be victorious. Dixon entered the race third in the Winston points race, just 46 points out of first. By reaching the final, Dixon (738) moved past Tony Schumacher (730) into second place, and three rounds out of first place, which is occupied by Scelzi (798).
The No. 9-seed Dixon began the day with a first round pass of 4.746 seconds at 311.20 mph to defeat No. 8 David Grubnic, who ran a lap of 4.822 seconds at 293.28 mph. In the second round Dixon and the Miller Lite Dragster clocked in at 4.856 seconds at 302.14 mph to even his career mark to 11 wins and 11 losses against Cory McClenathan who pedaled to a time of 5.389 seconds at 188.99 mph. Dixon advanced to his fourth final of the year by defeating No. 13 seed Doug Kalitta in the semifinals. Miller Lite crew chief Dick LaHaie tuned Dixon to his best elapsed time of the weekend at 4.665 seconds at 312.42 mph, and improved his career record to 3 wins and no losses over Kalitta (4.784 seconds at 293.09 mph).
"Obviously to go to the finals and lose is disappointing," said Dixon. "We had some electrical problems with the car all weekend long and we still won some rounds that we probably shouldn't have, some that we were just flat lucky to win. So to go as far as we did with the trouble that we had, I feel real lucky. We moved into second in the points race and that is a good thing. We just need to look ahead now to (points leader) Gary Scelzi. He has won three races in a row and is no slouch. We are entering the part of the season now where (crew chief) Dick LaHaie really shines - the hot and humid racetracks - and I am looking forward to it.
"The two races I am excited about the most right now are Columbus and Denver," said Dixon. "Personally, those are two tracks where I haven't done that well, but tracks that he excels at. We are doing so much better than last season; there is just no comparison. AS long as we keep going to finals, we will win our share of races."
Dixon's previous career best at Route 66 Raceway came last year when he posted a second round finish to Mike Dunn at the Fram Nationals. For his career, Dixon now has 10 wins and 12 losses in 22 total finals. On the year, the Miller Lite Dragster has a record of 22 wins and 7 losses. He has a total of 141 wins and 101 losses in 242 total elimination rounds.
Dixon was also excited for John Force, who set the NHRA's all-time win mark with his 86th career victory in funny car over Jerry Toliver. "It is really neat to see a guy who has won as much as he has still get so excited about winning," said Dixon. "He is a winner on and off the track. After going his first 15-20 years without winning a race, it shows a lot about his perseverance. It is neat and I am really happy for him. I am just glad that I don't have to race against him... except at Bristol (Winston Showdown)."
After three straight weeks of racing, Dixon and the Miller Lite Team will get a week off before traveling to the Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, OH (June 15-18).
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