Dixon Scores First Victory of 2004 at Englishtown Miller Lite driver now just one victory shy of equaling Don Garlits with 35 career wins ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 20, 2004) - Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon raced to his...
Dixon Scores First Victory of 2004 at Englishtown
Miller Lite driver now just one victory shy of equaling Don Garlits with 35 career wins
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 20, 2004) - Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon raced to his first victory of the 2004 NHRA season Sunday, defeating longtime rival Cory McClenathan in the Top Fuel final at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. With the victory, Dixon is now just one win away from equaling his racing idol and drag racing legend "Big Daddy" Don Garlits with 35 career Top Fuel triumphs.
Dixon, the fourth winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history, earned his 34th career NHRA victory by defeating Doug Herbert, Bobby Lagana Jr. and Darrell Russell, before knocking off McClenathan in the final round.
"I haven't won this race since 1995, so it feels good to get back to the winner's circle again here at Englishtown," Dixon said. "I just talked to Dick LaHaie, and he's pretty down about our season so far. But, I had to remind him about back in 1995 when he tuned Scott Kalitta to the championship that they didn't win their first race until Father's Day weekend. At least for this given moment, we had the best car today and I'm very happy."
In the opening round of Top Fuel eliminations, the California native used a Dick LaHaie tune-up to cruise to a run of 4.695 seconds at 316.52 mph to best Doug Herbert, whose dragster overpowered the track and slowed to a run of 6.198 at 142.25. Dixon, the 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year, then drove to a performance of 4.676 at 319.07 to defeat No. 16 qualifier Bobby Lagana Jr. Lagana, an independent driver from New York, clocked a pass of 5.649 at 177.51. Dixon, who qualified in the No. 9 position, used a slight starting line advantage to score a holeshot victory over last Sunday's Top Fuel winner Darrell Russell in the closest match of the day at Raceway Park. Dixon's Miller-backed dragster powered to a pass of 4.667 at 316.45, while Russell posted a quicker-but-losing 4.644 at 319.98. In the Top Fuel final, Dixon used a tune-up from LaHaie to race to his quickest pass of the weekend at 4.657 at 318.92 to edge McClenathan's 4.703 at 304.39.
Dixon's win also helped legendary team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme inch closer to his 100th career victory. Dixon's win was Prudhomme's 48th as a team owner. He drove to 49 NHRA wins during his driving 32-year driving career. Prudhomme sits just three wins shy of the century mark.
"I'm just thrilled that the team is picking the pace up and going forward," Prudhomme said. "They're just true champions to come back and run the way they ran and I'm just really proud of them. The 100th thing is just a number. What's more important is that the team does well."
Dixon's first victory since last August vaulted the Miller Lite driver to the No. 6 position in the POWERade points chase. Dixon has 621 points and trails Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher by 253 points or 12.5 rounds of competition. Dixon sits just 16 points behind fourth place driver Russell.
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the eighth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 25-27, at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., where Dixon looks to earn his first career win at the Illinois facility.