INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 3) - Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster currently own the longest streak of consecutive first round wins among the top fuel class (16) and will put that record on the line as the No. 4 qualifier...
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 3) - Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster currently own the longest streak of consecutive first round wins among the top fuel class (16) and will put that record on the line as the No. 4 qualifier takes on No. 12 Rhonda Hartman-Smith in the opening round of the 46th Annual NHRA U.S. Nationals.
The Miller Lite Team enters eliminations on Labor Day ranked third in the Winston Top Fuel points race with 1,140 points, just 78 points behind leader Gary Scelzi (1,218) and only 54 points out of second place, occupied by Tony Schumacher (1,194). Crew Chief Dick LaHaie has the No. 91 car posting a semifinal round average this season (10 out of 15 events), as the team has not lost in the opening round since last year's NHRA World Finals in Pomona, CA (Nov. 14, 1999).
Dixon came into the final day of qualifying in the No. 4 position (4.668 seconds at 309.20 mph) as the 90-degree heat and high humidity continued to beat on the quarter mile at Indianapolis Raceway Park. While the weather and track conditions did not bode well for any of the top fuel teams, LaHaie was able to put together two strong runs during qualifying (4.66 secs. at 309 mph & 4.68 secs. at 308 mph) and gained valuable data on the other three runs.
The pilot of the Miller Lite/Raybestos Dragster owns a record of 2 wins and 1 loss in three career meetings with Hartman-Smith, including a first round win earlier this season at Gainesville. Dixon became just the third rookie driver to win the U.S. Nationals with his only victory at I.R.P. in 1995.
"I'm not worried about what Gary Scelzi and Tony Schumacher are doing, I'm not going to think about any of that," said Dixon. "Our first concern is racing Rhonda tomorrow and we can't get ahead of ourselves. We can't control what those other guys are going to do. We just need to try and go out and win the first round and they will have to do the same. Anyone in this field is capable of winning, so I can't look ahead and say we can cruise here or there against anyone."
Monday's elimination round will begin at 11 AM and will be televised by TNN.