Columbus: Dixon finals report

COLUMBUS, OHIO (June 16) - Larry Dixon came into this weekend's NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals looking for his first career win at National Trail Raceway while finally gaining a victory at the single remaining "major" event he had yet to ...

COLUMBUS, OHIO (June 16) - Larry Dixon came into this weekend's NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals looking for his first career win at National Trail Raceway while finally gaining a victory at the single remaining "major" event he had yet to conquer.

The Miller Lite Dragster driver did just what he set out to do.

Dixon piloted Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Top Fueler to his first career win at Columbus, the 12th of his seven-year career, and was able to celebrate his Father's Day victory in Winner's circle with his wife Ali and seven-month-old son, Donavan. The win also moved Dixon closer to the top of the NHRA Winston point standings as he now sits just 41 points behind leader Kenny Bernstein.

"The win alone was a big deal," said Dixon. "We were four rounds out coming into this event and with Kenny going out in the semis, that helped us a lot. The big deal for me, I mean, you can spin a lot of stories out of this, but for me, this race is the one major that I haven't won. I have won at Gainesville, Englishtown, Pomona, Indy, and now I have won here. This is the one that Snake, (crew chief) Dick LaHaie, our Funny Car crew chief Ed McCulloch, this is the one that they think about because when they all started racing there was only five or six events, and this was one of them. This is a big deal, so I have always had it in my heart to try and win here."

Dixon started the road to his second win of the 2001 season as the No. 2 seed and a first round win over No. 15 seed Chris Karamesines. Dixon used session-best elapsed time of 4.647 seconds at 312.71 mph to better the 73-year-old Karamesines' lap of 7.004 seconds at 117.09 mph. In the second round, Dixon just missed recording low e.t. of the round yet again as his winning time of 4.676 seconds at 307.30 mph defeated Mike Dunn's pass (4.740 seconds at 291.63 mph). The semifinal round would be the third consecutive race that Dixon squared off with Team Winston driver Gary Scelzi. Dixon would come out on top for the fourth time in five head-to-head meetings against Scelzi this year as his pass of 4.654 seconds at 311.27 mph bested Scelzi's run of 6.214 mph at 138.51mph.

The final round was the third career meeting for Dixon and rookie driver Darrell Russell. Dixon sailed down the left lane to an event-winning time of 4.700 seconds at 306.53 mph to defeat Russell's pass of 4.929 seconds at 230.37 mph. Dixon's opening round lap (4.647) proved to be the low e.t. of the meet and he was quick to give LaHaie the credit.

"Half of the reason we were never able to win here before was because we were racing against Dick LaHaie," said Dixon. "He always wins here whether it's him driving or his past drivers Scott Kalitta or Doug Herbert driving. All the cars that he tunes win when they come to this event. The only way we could beat him was to hire him. This is one of the races that I looked forward to when he came on board because he can get a car down a slippery racetrack."

"Winning here today was very cool," said Dixon about the Father's Day victory. "You talk about 50 years of NHRA, well around my family drag racing has been around since before I was born. My dad used to race Top Fuel in the 1960s and 70s, he was fortunate enough to win at the Winternationals and there is a winner's circle shot of him holding me and the trophy. You look back at that stuff that was over 30 years ago and now I get to do the same thing with my son. We took pictures earlier and I got to hold my boy and my trophy at a major race and it's cool. NHRA and drag racing has been real good to my family and I am just happy to be a part of it."

Dixon and the Miller Lite Team get no time off as they hope to keep momentum going into next weekend's 5th Annual Sears Craftsman Nationals (June 22-24).

-www.snakeracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Kenny Bernstein , Gary Scelzi , Chris Karamesines , Scott Kalitta , Don Prudhomme , Dick LaHaie