Dixon sets up for a challenge

BRAINERD, Minn. - Just as all the hype surrounding the 2000 NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship was directed at two main players, a third has quietly positioned himself as a top contender. And with past champion Dick LaHaie tuning the Miller Lite...

BRAINERD, Minn. - Just as all the hype surrounding the 2000 NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship was directed at two main players, a third has quietly positioned himself as a top contender.

And with past champion Dick LaHaie tuning the Miller Lite dragster and team owner Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme - a four-time Funny Car champ -- providing insight from his years of wisdom in the sport, Larry Dixon should feel pretty comfortable about his chances.

Dixon, who has two victories in five final rounds this season, has been slightly overshadowed by the performances produced by current Winston points leader Gary Scelzi and defending series champion Tony Schumacher. Scelzi has six wins in six final rounds in the Team Winston dragster, while Schumacher has produced the most final round appearances - seven in the Exide Batteries dragster - with two victories.

While Scelzi and Schumacher have battled back and forth, Dixon went on about his business. After a runner-up finish at Sears Point Raceway, everyone finally realized that Dixon was serious about being a contender. The Indianapolis driver moved to second in points, 97 behind Scelzi.

Dixon hopes to improve his Winston points position with a victory at the 19th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals, Aug. 17-20, at The Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway. The $1.8 million race is the 16th of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

"We should have lost in the first round at Sonoma," said Dixon, the '99 Brainerd winner. "We were lucky all day and my luck ran out in the final round. We could have gone out early like Scelzi and Schumacher, but we were able to go to the final. Now, Scelzi isn't too far out there anymore."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Dick LaHaie