BAYTOWN,TX (Mar. 23) - After his first qualifying lap of the day did not produce an elapsed time or speed, Larry Dixon rebounded in the evening session as he drove the Don Prudhomme owned Miller Lite Dragster to the No. 3 position with a lap of...
BAYTOWN,TX (Mar. 23) - After his first qualifying lap of the day did not produce an elapsed time or speed, Larry Dixon rebounded in the evening session as he drove the Don Prudhomme owned Miller Lite Dragster to the No. 3 position with a lap of 4.576 seconds at 318.62 mph during the opening day of the O'Reilly Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.
Dixon, who has won two of the last three races at H.R.P., began his quest to repeat as the event champion with what looked to be an outstanding pass. Paired against Mike Dunn, Dixon launched off the starting line with the nose of his car inches off the ground. By half track, the Miller Lite Dragster reached a speed over 270 mph, but no official time or speed was recorded when he tripped the finish line beam. At the finish line, Dixon's car was clearly ahead of Dunn's New York Yankees Dragster, which clocked in at 4.604 seconds at a new NHRA record speed of 331.61 mph. Although a back-up timing system is used by the NHRA at national events,it too failed to give Dixon a time or speed for his efforts. As a result, despite running what is estimated to have been a mid 4.5-second lap, Dixon was not qualified in the field of 17 cars after the opening Top Fuel session.
"I'm really disappointed because our information showed that we were on our way to a 4.55," said Dixon. "All of our incremental times up to the 1,000 foot mark showed us that we were on a great run, nearly 325 mph. To have them (NHRA officials) not give us that run, it really put the pressure on us to back the car down to make sure we got down the race track. We only got down the race track once last week, so what if that was our only one (good) run (this week)? What if it rains tomorrow, who knows? And to not let us make a re-run, that really put us behind. On top of how much it costs to run one of these cars, to not get a time slip. It costs around $10,000 to make a run in one of these cars, so that was just like throwing ten grand away. I'm still aggravated about it because he could have hopped it up some for tonight's run, so it was just a matter of backing it down to make sure we got down the race track, and that's what we did."
Dixon and the team would rebound in the evening session however frustrations were eased with a lap of 4.576 seconds at 318.62 mph. Paired against Gary Scelzi, Dixon motored down the right lane and found himself solidly in the field. After the first three races of the season, Dixon has not qualified lower than third, including a pair of No. 2 qualifying efforts.
Dixon, currently sits fourth in the Winston Points race. He has won the Top Fuel title at H.R.P twice in his career (Fall 1999, Spring 2000). Crew Chief Dick LaHaie has tuned the winning Top Fuel car at H.R.P. at three of the last four events, including Doug Herbert's win (Spring 1999). ESPN is scheduled to broadcast Sunday's elimination rounds tomorrow from 5-7 PM ET.