ENGLISHTOWN, NJ (May 21) - Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster were finally forced to give in to the inclement New Jersey weather Sunday, but not before claiming the No. 1 qualifying position in top fuel for the 31st...
ENGLISHTOWN, NJ (May 21) - Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster were finally forced to give in to the inclement New Jersey weather Sunday, but not before claiming the No. 1 qualifying position in top fuel for the 31st Annual Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals, which have been re-scheduled for September 8-9, 2000.
With the top fuel and funny car fields set after just two qualifying runs recorded on Friday and Saturday, the Snake Racing team will return to Old Bridge Township Raceway Park for two time trial runs on Friday, Sept. 8 (3 & 7 PM), with the elimination round scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9 (2 PM). Sunday, Sept. 10 will be reserved as a rain day.
Dixon, the only top fuel driver to make two successful passes during the rainy, cold weekend, won the ninth pole of his career with his top qualifying pass of 4.644 seconds at 311.70 mph recorded on Friday night. The Miller Lite Dragster was also the quickest in the 15-car top fuel field on Saturday with an effort of 4.699 seconds at 278.35 mph.
The pole win is the second for Dixon at Englishtown and snaps a 13-month span since he has taken the podium as the No. 1 qualifier (April 24, 1999 - Castrol Nationals, Dallas).
"Because of the cold weather it made it very difficult to get down the race track this weekend," said Dixon. "I haven't seen this kind of weather for at least a couple of years, I think out of Houston. It has been really freakish conditions with the corrected air way below sea level versus last week (Atlanta) where we were 3,000 feet above sea level, so it's difficult for the crew chiefs to get down the race track. We saw people like Tony Pedregon, Ron Capps and Kenny Bernstein not making a full run down the race track because of the tough conditions. But (crew chief) Dick LaHaie, he's great. He was able to negotiate our engine to get the car down the race track. From my standpoint, I was just hanging on. We made two good runs, both in the 60's and was the only car to make it down the track both days. I felt good going into race day even with only two qualifying runs. I thought we could go down either lane and run 60's doing it."
Dixon was also feeling good about claiming the ninth pole of his career that began with his 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year campaign. "I guess the icing on the cake is that we were low qualifier and that is always a nice bonus," said Dixon. "You know, LaHaie never really sets up the car to be top qualifier, he just sets it up as good as he can for the conditions that exist. Lately that has been in the low 4.60's and that happened to be good enough to be low qualifier. I didn't care if they (the NHRA) set the field or not, but I am glad they did. That means we will have a bye first round and it sets up for some pretty good match ups, like Scelzi vs. Bernstein in the first round and that could be a big deal later in the season when it comes down to the points race. So for us to get a free ride to the second round when we come back here in September, that could be a real big deal."
Although winning the pole does have its advantages, Dixon is not blowing his performance out of proportion. "Being the No. 1 qualifier hasn't really ever done a whole lot for us," said Dixon. "The last time we were No. 1 qualifier here at Englishtown we happened to win the race, and that goes in the back of your mind... I mean it's nice to take some of that A-B money ($4,000 Budweiser Pole Award) especially for us in the Miller car. They only give you one extra point between first and second qualifiers where winning a race can mean a 100-point swing one way or the other so winning races is a lot better than winning the pole."
Dixon applauds the NHRA's decision to re-schedule the Englishtown event for later in the fall. "Coming back here in September works great as far as the schedule goes. It will be a three-race swing from Indy to Englishtown to Reading, which won't be putting a lot of mileage on the team. The only tight part is that we race Monday (Sept. 4) at Indianapolis and then need to be able to run Friday (Sept. 8) in Englishtown. If you happen to win at Indy, there will be a lot of service work that needs to be done before the team has to travel on Wednesday to be back here Thursday to set up to run again on Friday. So, it's tight on everyone's schedule, but it is the one weekend that made the most sense. I'll tell you what, when we come back here next time around, the points race and the pairings here will make it plenty interesting. "
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