Gainesville: Larry Dixon to defend Gatornational title

Coming Off Two Finals Appearances In First Two Races, Miller Lite Team Brings Points Lead To Gainesville As Larry Dixon Looks To Defend Title GAINESVILLE, FL. (Mar. 12) - Over the past seven years the Gatornationals has been the site of several...

Coming Off Two Finals Appearances In First Two Races, Miller Lite Team Brings Points Lead To Gainesville As Larry Dixon Looks To Defend Title

GAINESVILLE, FL. (Mar. 12) - Over the past seven years the Gatornationals has been the site of several meaningful events for Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite Top Fuel Team. This season looks to be no different.

Dixon, the current 2002 NHRA POWERade points leader, returns to The Sunshine State as the reigning Gators champ where he won the first of his career-best six season victories en route to a runner up finish in 2001. The win was the second of Dixon's career at Gainesville Raceway-the track where he not only earned his Top Fuel license, but where he also ran low elapsed time of the quickest Top Fuel field in NHRA history (4.532-4.697) in 1999. So after reaching the first two finals of the year, it should be no surprise that Dixon is in position to add another significant note to his bio entering this weekend's 33rd Annual Mac Tools Gatornationals (Mar. 15-17).

A win this weekend would make Dixon only the fifth Top Fuel driver in 33 years of Gators history to successfully defend his title. The four Top Fuel drivers who have won back-to-back Gatornationals events were none other than Don Garlits (1977-78), Shirley Muldowney (1981-82), Darrell Gwynn (1989-90) and Eddie Hill (1992-93). In Funny Car, John Force (1992-96) holds the record with five straight Gators wins, while Snake Racing team owner Don Prudhomme won three in a row (1974-76).

"Looking at those stats, it just goes to show how hard it is to repeat at this race," said Dixon. "This year it's not going to be any easier. While we certainly have had a good car so far, we'll have to see how the conditions are. It is supposed to be hot and that could make things pretty tough, especially with the new tire that we are running. Whoever wins this weekend will definitely have earned their spot on the podium."

Adding to the excitement of this weekend's race is the return of Muldowney and Garlits to NHRA competition. For Dixon, that is proof alone as to how important the Mac Tools Gatornationals is in the sport of professional drag racing. "Both of them pick the events that they are going to go to and anytime you can race against them, it's a thrill," said Dixon. "It's kind of like all of the young NBA players today who grew up watching Michael Jordan. They never would have had a chance to play against him if he hadn't come out of retirement. It's the same kind of thing for me."

<pre> Larry Dixon's Appearance Schedule

Date & Time              Location
Tue, 3/12 900-400p       Orlando Media Tour
Wed, 3/13 12-200p        Fast Track, Gainesville, FL with WRUF FM LIVE
         700-900p        Miller Distributor Dinner
Thur, 3/14 700-900p      The Swamp, 1636 West University Drive, Gville, FL
Fri, 3/15 100, 400p      Qualifying sessions 1 & 2
Sat, 3/16  100, 400p     Qualifying sessions 3 & 4
Sun, 3/17   1100a        Final eliminations

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Larry Dixon , Don Garlits , Don Prudhomme , Darrell Gwynn