Gainseville: Dixon confident about return

INDIANAPOLIS-(April 8) -- When Larry Dixon returns to Gainesville Raceway this weekend (April 20-21) for the continuation of the rain delayed Mac Tools Gatornationals, the seventh-year driver believes that Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster has...

INDIANAPOLIS-(April 8) -- When Larry Dixon returns to Gainesville Raceway this weekend (April 20-21) for the continuation of the rain delayed Mac Tools Gatornationals, the seventh-year driver believes that Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster has as good a chance as any to earn the right to visit Victory Lane.

The Miller Lite Team will see a pair of test and tune runs on Friday before eliminations begin on Saturday, scheduled for an 11:00 AM ET start. "With the additional day of test and tune runs, now we get six runs down the track before competition begins and I think that puts us in pretty good shape for Saturday," said Dixon.

After the Gatornationals first kicked off on March 15, Dixon and Crew Chief Dick LaHaie teamed together to produce their top-qualifying lap of 4.588 seconds at 316.38 mph, good enough for the No. 2 seed. In spite of a pair of 4.7-second qualifying passes and one tire smoker to round out the other three qualifying sessions, Dixon remains confident.

"Going back to Gainesville this weekend will be different for us than during a usual race. The pressure will be off us because we have already finished qualifying, and we qualified well. Now it will just be a matter of putting in our Gainesville tune up, adjusting for the track and weather conditions, and going out and race."

Qualifying has been a strong suit for LaHaie as the Miller Lite Dragster has qualified in the No. 2 spot three times, No. 3 once, and has only fallen to the bottom half of the ladder once (No. 9).

Although the 2001 NHRA Winston DragRacing season is already into its third month, Dixon does not feel as though the novelty of the new year has worn off. "The dust won't settle until November 15," he said. "I think at the last race in Vegas, we didn't have the right set up for the altitude. The track there was great and cars were just flying, but we never really got a handle on the set up. This week we return to Gainesville and to a track that is near sea level conditions. We need to just put what happened in Las Vegas behind us and get back to racing and I think that is exactly what the Miller Lite Team is going to do."

Dixon's No. 2 seeding grants him a first round match up with No. 15 Bobby Baldwin. For his career, Dixon owns a record of 3 wins and no losses to Baldwin, including a 1 - 0 mark this season in their only prevoius meeting in 2001.

Dixon (282) currently sits in third place in the Winston Top Fuel points race. His second round finish at Las Vegas last week helped him move past Doug Kalitta (281) from fourth into third, and just 66 points behind leader Mike Dunn (348). For the season, Dixon owns an elimination record of 7 wins and 4 losses in 11 total rounds (.636 win percentage). He has a career mark of 168 wins and 120 losses (.583) in 288 career rounds and has 10 wins against 15 losses (.416) in 25 career finals.

-Snake Racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Doug Kalitta , Don Prudhomme , Dick LaHaie