Indy ORP: Larry Dixon preview

Larry Dixon enters the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals as the points leader and the top seed in the Countdown to 1 NHRA Playoffs. With the points reset to start the Countdown, he leads second-place Cory McClenathan by 30 points entering the U.S.

Larry Dixon enters the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals as the points leader and the top seed in the Countdown to 1 NHRA Playoffs. With the points reset to start the Countdown, he leads second-place Cory McClenathan by 30 points entering the U.S. Nationals, the first of six races in the Countdown.

Dixon won the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn. for his ninth win in the 17 regular-season races. Dixon defeated Steve Torrence, Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta and Cory McClenathan on his way to the winner's circle.

Dixon's nine wins this season equals his career-best wins total for a season; he won nine races on his way to the 2002 NHRA Top Fuel championship. His nine-win total is also more than any other driver in the four NHRA professional classes. Dixon is just the third NHRA professional driver to win his first nine final rounds in a season. John Force and Tony Schumacher did the same in 1994 and 2008 respectively.

Dixon has three wins in six U.S. Nationals final-round appearances. He won the U.S. Nationals in 1995, 2001, and '05. Last year, he was the No. 4 qualifier; he defeated Clay Millican, Morgan Lucas and Spencer Massey before losing to Tony Schumacher in the final round of eliminations.

Dixon has won all five of the races in which he was the No. 1 qualifier making him a perfect 20-0 in eliminations when competing as the No. 1 qualifier this season.

Dixon has advanced to at least the semifinals in 13 of the 17 events so far this season; he remains undefeated in final rounds with a 9-0 mark and has nine wins in the season's first 17 races: Pomona, Calif., Baytown, Texas, Las Vegas, Atlanta Dragway, Joliet, Ill., Englishtown, N.J., Norwalk, Ohio, Sonoma, Calif. and Brainerd, Minn.

Dixon has been an excellent qualifier this season having qualified in the top three at 14 of the 17 races. Dixon's average qualifying position so far this year is 2.71. He has been the No. 1 qualifier five times this season and 45 times in his career.

Dixon has raced Tony Schumacher in eliminations 10 times this season; Dixon leads the season series 7-3 and has won each of the last five meetings. In nine of their 10 meetings this season, the winning driver has gone on to win the event.

Dixon is tied for first place on the NHRA's all-time Top Fuel final-round appearances list with 101 final rounds. Tony Schumacher also has 101 final-round appearances.

"I really think it's the history of the U.S. Nationals that makes it so special. From the beginning of time there was only one race on the tour, and that was the U.S. Nationals. So my dad never really did the tour racing Top Fuel cars back in the '60s and '70s, but that was one race we always towed back and went to. And you'd see everybody from every corner of the country. There were a lot of Top Fuel cars back then, and they all came to Indy. So it just kind of was engrained in you early on that this is a big deal.

"Even though I've lived here now for the last dozen years, I drive by the track(O'Reilly Raceway Park) almost every day. But when the Nationals are in town, it just conjures up all those memories of all the years of going there and different things that happened and watching (Don) Garlits and Shirley (Muldowney) and everybody else race there. I am just honored to be able to compete in that race.

"I am excited for the Al-Anabi team, not only because we finished the regular season in the top 10 but also because we are the number one seed for the Countdown. Our team worked very hard in the regular season to try and get into that position, and we were able to do that so it feels good. Our game plan hasn't really changed as we start the playoffs. Our team's goal has been go into every session, try to do as well as we can and hope it's enough. It got us to this point so I don't see a lot changing in the last six races.

"We learned last year how big a difference qualifying bonus points can make so we'll be doing our best to get every bonus point out there. The bonus points, whether you get three for being the quickest in a session or 1 for being the third quickest, they all add up at the end of the year.

"I feel very proud that we've done as well as we've done and won as many races as we have in the regular season; I'm proud of the Al-Anabi team. But ask (New England Patriots Quarterback) Tom Brady about his undefeated regular season (2007-08), and ask him where that ranks in his career accomplishments. I think he would say that's not among his top memories because he didn't win the Super Bowl. (The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2008.) Any of the 10 teams in the countdown has a good shot at winning the Full Throttle championship, and at this point, the championship is all that really counts. It would be an honor to win a Full Throttle championship for the Al-Anabi Racing team, His Highness Sheik Khalid and the people of Qatar. We have a long way to go, but it all starts this weekend."

-source: al-anabi racing team

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Series NHRA
Drivers Clay Millican , Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan , Morgan Lucas , Steve Torrence , Spencer Massey