ENNIS, Texas - The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is a collection of 23 national events held in 20 major cities throughout the United States. At the end of each season, only four drivers are left standing with bonus checks in one hand and ...
ENNIS, Texas - The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is a collection of 23 national events held in 20 major cities throughout the United States. At the end of each season, only four drivers are left standing with bonus checks in one hand and championship trophies in the other.
Larry Dixon and Greg Anderson represent two of the four professional categories. They are looking to make the Texas Motorplex the site where they are honored with the year-end awards - before the season is over. If both drivers finish the event with at least a 277-point lead over the No. 2 driver in each category, they will walk away from Texas with the NHRA POWERade Series championship titles.
Dixon currently leads Doug Kalitta by 348, while Anderson holds a 354-point lead over Kurt Johnson.
Both drivers are aiming high when they arrive at the 18th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, Oct. 9-12, at Texas Motorplex. Doug Kalitta, Del Worsham and Jeg Coughlin are the defending champions for the $1.9 million race. It is the 21st of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
In 2002, Dixon and the Miller Lite team clinched the Top Fuel title - the first of Dixon's career - at the race in Las Vegas two weeks after the O'Reilly Fall Nationals. Anderson finished in third place of the Pro Stock standings. He had the points lead with just four races left in the season before falling into third place.
Anderson has 12 national event victories, including eight this season in the first 17 races of the year. He doesn't, however, have any experience in a final round at the Motorplex.
"Dallas has been decent for me, but it hasn't been spectacular to be honest," Anderson said. "It has been a weak spot and that's what we are trying to correct this year. This year we have a lot stronger run going in the last half of the season than we've ever had and we need to keep that momentum going. We need to erase what's happened to us in the last part of the season during the past few seasons.
"We kind of fell apart the last third of the season last year and we can't let that happen this year or we'll lose the point lead. Obviously we would like to keep on going here and get some more wins and hopefully we could have it wrapped up by Dallas. The main thing is to not let our guard down and stumble and trip and do like we've done the last few races the last couple of years."
Dixon finished second to Kenny Bernstein in 2001, a race that came down to the final event of the season. Having the experience of being first and second in the championship chase has made Dixon more cautious than anxious about doing a celebration dance in Texas.
"It would feel wonderful if that was the situation, if we could clinch (the POWERade championship) in Dallas," Dixon said. "We are going into every race trying to keep doing the same things that we've been doing and hope that the chips fall our way. If not, then we didn't deserve it."
Ever the racer, Anderson is already focused on performance. The Texas Motorplex is the only all-concrete quarter-mile facility on the NHRA schedule. The surface is something Anderson is looking forward to tackling.
"It's absolutely a great surface for Pro Stock cars, it has more traction than any other track," Anderson said. "I don't know about the fuel cars but I would think that they love it too. You have to make sure you keep the car in the groove because it is so good that if you get one tire out of the groove then you have a problem because it will try and steer the car. You have to be careful of that, but that's just a case of keeping in the middle of the track and then it's a wonderful track. I am looking forward to it. We have to make sure we do all our homework and if we're fortunate enough we can clinch the championship there and it would be wonderful."