DIXON RACES TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 20, 2005) -- Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon advanced to his first final round of the 2005 NHRA season Sunday at Gainesville Raceway as the 35-time NHRA...
DIXON RACES TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT GATORNATIONALS
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 20, 2005) -- Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon advanced to his first final round of the 2005 NHRA season Sunday at Gainesville Raceway as the 35-time NHRA winner posted a runner-up finish at the 36th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals
Dixon and the Miller Lite race team defeated David Baca, points leader Tony Schumacher and Clay Millican before falling to Doug Kalitta in a wacky, tire smoking final round match. Dixon's Dick LaHaie tuned rail posted low elapsed time of the quarterfinals and semifinals Sunday afternoon.
In the opening round, the veteran driver used his driving prowess to score a holeshot victory over No. 12 qualifier David Baca. Dixon posted the second and third best reaction times on Sunday (.055 -- final round, .056 -- first round). The 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year, then used a performance of 4.594 seconds at 318.12 mph from his Miller Lite/Ameriquest dragster to knock off reigning NHRA Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher. In the semifinals, Dixon's Don Prudhomme-owned dragster powered to the win and recorded top speed of race day when it stopped the timers in 4.546 at a blistering 329.54 mph on a sunny Gainesville Raceway quarter mile.
After the sun went down and the clouds rolled in, the fans were treated to one of the wildest Top Fuel final rounds in recent memory -- the 64th final round appearance of Dixon's career -- as both Dixon's Miller Lite/Lucas Oil car and Kalitta's Mac Tools dragster lost traction near mid-track. Dixon's dragster got sideways and Kalitta's rail regained traction to score the narrow victory. Dixon moved to fifth in the POWERade Top Fuel points and sits just 50 points or 2 0x00bd rounds of competition out of first place. Dixon's next victory will move him into sole possession ofthird place on the all-time NHRA Top Fuel win list. He is currently tied with drag racing pioneer Don Garlits with career 35 wins.
"Other than getting the win light, it was a pretty good weekend," Dixon said. "You come into each race wanting to win and we didn't accomplish that. It's disappointing because it wouldn't have taken much to win that round.
"We were low (E.T.) the two rounds before that and we pressed it and shouldn't have," assistant crew chief Don Bender added. "We tried to run better because we thought they would. The track got better and we thought they'd run a 4.48 or 4.49 and we knew we had to be right with them and got too aggressive with the clutch."
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 18th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals, April 8-10, at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas. Dixon is a two-time winner at the Texas track. He also posted the first 4.4-second pass in NHRA history (4.486-seconds) at H.R.P. in 1999.