DIXON CAPTURES THIRD CAREER U.S. NATIONALS VICTORY CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 4, 2005) -- Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon captured the title at drag racing's & ...
DIXON CAPTURES THIRD CAREER U.S. NATIONALS VICTORY
CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 4, 2005) -- Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon captured the title at drag racing's Super Bowl' event Sunday at Indianapolis Raceway Park as Dixon and Don "the Snake" Prudhomme's Miller Lite team mastered the field at the 51st running of the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Dixon captured his third career U.S. Nationals win, while it was Indy win number 10 for the Snake (seven as a driver, three as an owner).
After making a career-best run at the storied Indianapolis quarter mile (4.510 seconds) to qualify sixth, the veteran Top Fuel pilot defeated No. 11 qualifier Scott Weis in the opening round of Top Fuel eliminations before knocking off veteran racer Cory McClenathan in round two, No. 2 qualifier Doug Herbert in the semifinals, and top qualifier and points leader Tony Schumacher in the final round to earn his 38th career victory.
"I busted out a 1991 Dick LaHaie t-shirt hoping that it would bring us some good luck today, I guess it worked," Dixon said. "This win goes to my dad (Larry Sr.) and the trophy goes to my daughter (Alanna). She wanted a girl trophy, so I guess the Wally is a dolly."
As the last pair of dragster to match-up in the opening round, Dixon used a conservative tune-up from crew chief Dick LaHaie to propel the Miller Lite/Ameriquest dragster to a pass of 4.606 seconds at 324.59 mph to best a tire-smoking Weis, whose dragster lost traction early in the run.
Not having lane choice in round two, the Miller Lite dragster raced out of the left lane against McClenathan, who posted a 4.565-second elapsed time in the first round to earn the choice of lane against Dixon. Top Fuel racing's winningest active driver use a stout .046 of-a-second reaction time and powered the Miller-backed rail to the wire-to-wire victory against McClenathan. Dixon blasted the LaHaie-tuned dragster to a run of 4.551 at 326.79, while McClenathan's FRAM dragster smoked the tires instantly. Dixon's 4.551-second E.T. was the second quickest pass of round two.
Dixon then drove to his 69th career final round appearance when the Miller Lite dragster cruised to the win against Herbert. The seasoned drivers had similar reaction times, but Herbert's rail spun the tires and Dixon blasted the Miller Lite dragster to a performance of 4.548 at 326.00 to score the trip to the final round and lane choice over Schumacher, who recorded a 4.655-second E.T. in a semifinal win over David Grubnic.
In the final round of NHRA drag racing's marquee event, both drivers posted quick reaction times, but Schumacher's rail struck the tires and the Miller Lite/Lucas Oil dragster blistered the I.R.P. quarter mile in 4.521 at 326.71 as Dixon claimed his third career victory at Indy. Dixon's win snapped Schumacher's three-year run as U.S. Nationals champion. Dixon's 4.521-second E.T. was low elasped time of eliminations.
"They are an unbelievable team," Dixon said. "They've owned this place for some time now, so to take the limelight away from them for a day feels great. I'm so proud and ecstatic for our entire team. This race is anything to everybody. Next to winning the title, winning Indy is the next best thing and we did that. I'm so proud to be a part of this race team.
"They had a hiccup in the semis and I thought was going to be their bad round of the day. Alan Johnson doesn't make many mistakes, so I was a nervous wreck going into the final. I tried to cut a light, but I still got left on, but our package would have been tough to beat. All the credit goes to Dick LaHaie. You can't keep a good dog down too long."
Dixon and the Miller Lite team trail Schumacher by 79 points with five races remaining on the 2005 NHRA schedule. The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 21st annual Toyo Tires Nationals, Sept. 15-18, at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa. Maple Grove Raceway is just one of two tracks (Gateway International Raceway) on the NHRA schedule where Dixon has yet to visit the winner's circle. He posted a runner-up finish at the Reading race in 1995. Dixon has earned wins at 18 of the 20 race tracks on tour.