BAYTOWN, TX (Apr. 16) - Running with the same bracket car consistency that earned him a victory here last October, Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster put together a string of four near perfect laps Sunday to win the Top...
BAYTOWN, TX (Apr. 16) - Running with the same bracket car consistency that earned him a victory here last October, Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster put together a string of four near perfect laps Sunday to win the Top Fuel crown at the 13th Annual O'Reilly Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.
The road to Dixon's ninth career win began with a first round pass of 4.665 seconds at 319.67 mph, bettering fellow Indianapolis resident Bruce Litton's lap of 4.745 seconds at 314.09 mph. The second round saw the Miller Lite car cover the quarter mile in 4.669 seconds at 313.07 mph to defeat Don Lampus who ran 4.719 seconds at 313.44 mph. Dixon then squared off against Doug Herbert in his third semi-final appearance of the year, running a time of 4.627 seconds at 320.58 mph to quash the Snap On Tools car's effort of 7.735 seconds at 110.98 mph.
Dixon's 19th final round appearance of his career would be his first championship match up against defending NHRA Top Fuel Champ Tony Schumacher. As he did all weekend, Miller Lite Crew Chief Dick LaHaie again tuned the car with precision, resulting in a winning pass of 4.665 seconds at 316.90 mph as Schumacher earned runner up status with a lap of 4.761 seconds at 309.98 mph. "What a great weekend for the Miller Lite team," said a victorious Dixon following his champagne celebration in Winner's Circle. "Winning today really helped us out in the points. The only way we were going to make up any ground in the standings was to beat Tony Schumacher in the finals. I tell you that Houston is really special for us, beginning last year with being the first to run under 4.5 seconds. To be able to look in the record books and see that, it's just like looking back and seeing when Snake was the first to run 250 mph. But the thing about that race was that Dick LaHaie tuned Doug Herbert and won that race. Records are real cool, but trophies are harder to get. I think this is one of the best teams I have ever been on, even when I worked on the crew for Snake's teams. When (Miller Lite teammates) Rusty Wallace and Max Papis won earlier this year, it really put some heat on us and we needed a win. Well, today the stars lined up for us and we got one."
Team owner Don Prudhomme also exalted in his team's win. "It is very competitive in our category," said Prudhomme. "Just like NASCAR, you can be leading up to the last lap and anyone can still win the race. Kenny Bernstein had a great qualifying time winning the low E.T. and he went out early. The trick is to get the set up consistent for four consecutive runs and that is something that Dick LaHaie does for us. What's different weather and track conditions at every race, I think the 90 percent rule is a good thing. All the cars are running the same thing, like restrictor plate racing. The key to winning now is round to round consistency."
Dixon too heralded LaHaie's efforts. "I am just really thankful that Snake was able to do the deal to get LaHaie on our team," said Dixon. "One of the biggest obstacles we have had in the past was running against his cars and now we don't have that problem anymore."
Although Dixon's first win of the season came just five races into the 2000 Winston NHRA Drag Racing Series, he is not making any predictions for a championship this season. "Ask me at the next Houston race and I will tell you then how I feel about winning the championship. I always seem to come out of here in the spring pretty solid in the points, and then run inconsistently in the summer. So right now I could care less about the championship."
Dixon's win, his second in a row in Houston, moved the Miller Lite Dragster from fifth place up to third (365) in the Top Fuel points race, just 20 points out of second place and 86 points out from current points leader Schumacher.
The Miller Lite Team has a week off before heading to Richmond, VA for the Moto1.Net Nationals (April 27-30).
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