GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2004) -- Gainesville Raceway is a special place for Larry Dixon. Ten years ago, the then 27 year-old Dixon, then a crew member on Don Prudhomme's Top Fuel dragster, earned his NHRA Top Fuel license at the historic...
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15, 2004) -- Gainesville Raceway is a special place for Larry Dixon. Ten years ago, the then 27 year-old Dixon, then a crew member on Don Prudhomme's Top Fuel dragster, earned his NHRA Top Fuel license at the historic Florida facility the Monday after the 1994 Gatornationals.
A year later, Dixon returned to the Sunshine State and collected his second career NHRA victory when he drove his Prudhomme-owned MGD dragster to the win over Blaine Johnson to capture his second "Wally" trophy in his first three races.
"Gainesville will always hold great memories for me," Dixon said. "Starting out going to Frank Hawley's School in 1990. Then getting my fuel license in 1994. Then winning there my first season as a driver and having won there back-to-back in '01-'02. Gainesville has been good to us."
Now, in his 10th season behind the wheel of his Miller-backed dragster, Dixon aims to collect his first NHRA victory of the season and move into the thick of the Top Fuel points race when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its only appearance in Florida for the 35th running of the Mac Tools Gatornationals, March 18-21.
After posting second round finishes at the first two events of the 2004 NHRA campaign, the two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion is confident he'll return to winning form after crew chief Dick LaHaie's decision to change the engine combination on Dixon's Miller Lite car, which now features the popular setback blower (supercharger).
"I'm for whatever Dick LaHaie thinks will make our car run well and win races," Dixon said. "If we make the right calls on race days and gain knowledge with each run from the data we gather, we should be fine."
Dixon, who has raced to three victories and two No. 1 qualifying positions in Gator country, will reach another milestone if he qualifies for the 35th running of NHRA's first East Coast race on the 23-race schedule. Dixon enters the event having competed in 499 rounds of competition. The Indianapolis driver hopes to surpass round win No. 500 and get to career round No. 503 on Sunday, March 21.
"I don't really care about the 500th round," Dixon said. "We don't get any extra points from POWERade and it's not the most rounds in the history of drag racing. I'm focused on qualifying at Gainesville, then hopefully getting to round No. 503 that Sunday."
If Dixon obtains career victory No. 34 and moves within one win of equaling drag racing legend "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Gainesville Raceway will continue to be one race trackDixon considers a bit more special than the rest.