DIXON ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT RETURN TO HISTORIC GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 13, 2006) -- Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon prides himself on being a gifted drag racing historian. Put aside the many on-track accomplishments...
DIXON ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT RETURN TO HISTORIC GATORNATIONALS
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 13, 2006) -- Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon prides himself on being a gifted drag racing historian. Put aside the many on-track accomplishments that include consecutive Top Fuel championships (2002-03) and 38 race wins, and you'll have a difficult time finding a racer with more passion for the sport he has spent his entire life around.
The veteran driver of Don "the Snake" Prudhomme's Miller Lite Top Fuel dragster grew up at drag strips across the country with his father, Larry Sr., who also competed in the Top Fuel ranks. So the younger Dixon is well versed in the annals of the deep-rooted tracks like Gainesville, Englishtown (N.J.), Indianapolis, Pomona (Calif.) and Columbus (Ohio) where he's been fortunate to have earned a number of his victories 38 wins, which ranks third all-time in the Top Fuel category.
Needless to say, Dixon, now in his 12th season behind the wheel of his Miller-backed rail, is amped as the NHRA circuit roars into central Florida for its annual trip to the Sunshine State, March 16-19, for the 37th annual ACDelco Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Dixon has three career wins in five final-round appearances at the Gainesville track.
"I always like running at Gainesville," Dixon said. "I don't know if the numbers show it, but I think that more people show up for the Gatornationals than any other race on the circuit. It's such a historic venue and I always get excited when we return to Gainesville.
"I like going to the tracks that have been on the tour since I was a little kid. They mean more from a historical standpoint to me. When you're a kid, you dream about racing at tracks like Gainesville where Snake (Don Prudhomme) and (Don) Garlits and Shirley (Muldowney) all raced at. I feel fortunate to have had some success at some of those facilities. Gainesville was Garlits' home track, and I feel lucky to have won that race a few times."
While the Gatornationals offers up plenty of story lines with its long history and tradition that dates back to 1970, much of the talk entering the 37th running of the Gators surrounds the required 2420 Goodyear tire that will be mandatory for all Top Fuel and Funny Cars. At the season's first two races, teams had the option of competing with the 2420 or last season's 1430 tire. With only the 2420 tire allowed, most drag racing pundits are wondering if there will be consistency issues with the new tire that has proven to be challenging to maneuver down the 1,320-foot drag strip.
"Our team was prepared to go into Pomona on that tire because that's what they had said was going to take place," Dixon said. "When they changed their minds, we went back to the 1430 at the first two races. Now, we have to run the 2420 for Gainesville. We put it back on the car Monday after Phoenix and made some runs and we're ready to go. If they feel it's a better, safer tire then that's the tire that we need to run on the car."
The 2420 tire may create some intrigue during qualifying and on race day, but the real story of the weekend will be written when a group of four professional racers adds their names to a celebrated list of drag racers who have captured an event title from the treasured Gatornationals.