Indianapolis: Larry Dixon U. S. Nationals preview

Defending Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Champ Larry Dixon energized for encore performance. INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 26) - For as long as Miller Lite Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon can remember, Labor Day weekend has had only one meaning - the Mac Tools U.S.

Defending Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Champ Larry Dixon energized for encore performance.

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 26) - For as long as Miller Lite Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon can remember, Labor Day weekend has had only one meaning - the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. The 48th annual edition at Indianapolis Raceway Park is bringing an resurgence in energy to the 35-year-old Indianapolis resident, providing the same brawn that gave him the staying power to score his second "Big Go" title last year. He knows and understands the significance of the NHRA's greatest drag race and can feel the surge of adrenaline as he heads towards the NHRA's biggest bonanza.

Proceeding into raceweek after a successful pre-Indy test finds the Miller Lite/Snake Racing team in a very fortunate position. The Dick LaHaie tuned-dragster ran successful 1,000-foot passes, with a 4.656 seconds, 281.51 mph effort the best of the two-day session.

"Right now, everybody on our team is really focused on trying to have a good showing here at Indy, " said Dixon, the 1995 and 2001 Top Fuel champ. "We won here last year, and obviously we would like to repeat, so we're trying to get our car adapted to the Indianapolis track and weather." Dixon also brings in an 80-point lead into the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel chase with only seven events remaining, but his priorities are clearly focused on just this race.

"The points thing is secondary," said Dixon. "It's like getting bonus points for winning Indy. That's what happens when you win. Winning the race is the first thing on our minds."

Should Dixon could get his 24th victory next Monday, he will join some elite drag racing company. Only five times in the 48-year history of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals has the previous year's Top Fuel winner been able to repeat as the event champion, with the impressive list a Who's Who in NHRA drag racing. Only Don Garlits (1967-68), Dixon's car owner, Don Prudhomme (1969-70), Gary Beck (1972-73) and Joe Amato have won back-to-back races, with Garlits the only one to win three times in a row (1984-85-86).

"That tells you how hard it is to win this race," stated Dixon. This is the biggest and most important race we go to and everybody puts his or her best effort in. I imagine no one is going to let anyone cakewalk through this thing so we're just trying to be as prepared as we can be.

"It's hard to impress people in this camp, You have (team-owner) Snake (Don Prudhomme TF-1969-70; FC- 1973-74-77-89) who has won this race seven times and (crew chief for Funny Car teammate Ron Capps) Ace (McCulloch FC-1971-72-80-88-90; TF-1992) who has won it six times, so I'm way down on the list, but I think back to all the years my dad came to this race and never won. To have won this race twice already in my brief career is certainly a highlight."

Qualifying starts on Friday with one session at 7:30 p.m. followed by sessions on Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday qualifying highlights begin at 12:00 p.m. and 4:10 p.m. Monday's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals will start the engines at 10:30 a.m. CDT.

-www.snakeracing.com-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Ron Capps , Joe Amato , Don Garlits , Don Prudhomme , Dick LaHaie