DIXON LOOKING FOR MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS VICTORY TO KEEP HIS PERFECT TOP FUEL SEASON ON TRACK CLERMONT, Ind. - With nine victories in nine final round appearances, Larry Dixon's regular season performance in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing...
DIXON LOOKING FOR MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS VICTORY TO KEEP HIS PERFECT TOP FUEL SEASON ON TRACK
CLERMONT, Ind. - With nine victories in nine final round appearances, Larry Dixon's regular season performance in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series was extremely impressive.
Because of his stout run in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster during the first 17 races of the season, the two-time world champion must be feeling a sense of anticipation as he heads into the upcoming six playoff races as the top seed and category-favorite.
Despite all those who may tell Dixon that he's got world championship No. 3 locked up, he knows better. Last year he finished second by two points to arch-rival Tony Schumacher. This season he's not guaranteeing anything, despite the strong regular season. He knows his Al-Anabi team led by team manager Alan Johnson and crew chief Jason McCulloch will need to work hard during the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship to close the deal.
That hard work begins at the biggest race of them all, the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, Sept. 1-6 at historic O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The race, the first of six events in the Countdown to the Championship, will be showcased in 10 hours of coverage on ESPN2 HD.
Dixon is a three-time winner of the event and a six-time finalist there. His primary rival, seven-time world champ Schumacher, has won at Indy a record eight times in 10 finals. Therefore, to get off to a great start in the playoffs, Dixon says a win at Indy would go a long way in that department.
"We're not going to have a different approach at all going into Indy," Dixon said. "I've never been a No. 1 seed before, and I'm excited going into Indy. I'm not even thinking about the playoffs, really. I'm thinking about Indy. That is such a big race in itself that you always want to try and do well there."
Dixon won the U.S. Nationals during his rookie season in 1995, forming an instant bond with the tradition-rich event held each Labor Day weekend. He beat Schumacher in the U.S. Nationals final in 2005 for his most recent win there.
"Whether it's your first or fourth win, the U.S. Nationals is a special event for most racers, and I'm one of them," Dixon said. "I have a lot of memories of going to that race when I was a kid, and it's a big deal. What it means to do well at the U.S. Nationals has been ingrained in my head all my life. Fortunately I've won three times, and a fourth with the Al-Anabi team would mean a lot."
Dixon earned his No. 1 seed for the playoffs by racing to victories at the season-opening 50th Winternationals at Pomona, and following that memorable victory with wins at Houston, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago, Englishtown, Norwalk, Sonoma and Brainerd. He says during that stretch his Al-Anabi team really came into its own on the track and is well prepared for the playoffs.
"We've won so many different ways," Dixon said. "We smoked the tires and won a final that way. Another time we pedaled the car and other times we have ran all right. There are so many variables and you can just have one hiccup and somebody else wins. I feel lucky. That is straight up how I feel about it. I've had seasons where I haven't won one race, so to have a season where you have won nine, it is overwhelming. These races are so hard to win."
As are championship titles. Dixon's two series crowns came in 2002 and 2003 during dominating seasons when he won eight and nine races during each of those seasons respectively. With a victory at Indy Dixon could set a personal best for victories in a season and inch that much closer to his third world championship.
However, with U.S. Army dragster driver Schumacher lurking to keep his amazing championship streak going and hungry drivers like veteran Cory McClenathan, still searching for his elusive first series title in his FRAM dragster, and former motorcycle racer turned nitro driver Antron Brown looking to break through as well, Dixon knows the championship run promises to be filled with challenges.
The competition in the 7,000 horsepower category goes even deeper with Doug Kalitta hovering in stealth mode in his DEWALT/Stanley/Mac Tools dragster, Brandon Bernstein looking to make a charge in his Copart/Lucas Oil dragster and GEICO Powersports dragster driver Morgan Lucas capable of striking with a win at any time.
"There are 10 teams with an equal chance to win the Full Throttle Championship so it's way early to even talk about a championship," Dixon said. "But if we are lucky enough to pull it off, it would mean as much to me as everyone else on this team including His Highness Sheik Khalid. He had a goal and vision, and (team manager) Alan (Johnson), (crew chief) Jason (McCulloch) and everyone else left other jobs to be a part of the Al-Anabi team. If we are successful, it would mean a lot to win a championship for our Al-Anabi team, but it would mean even more to win the title for Sheik Khalid and bring the NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel championship to the people of Qatar."
* SCHEDULE: The first of five qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 3. Two sessions will be held on Sept. 4 at 3 and 6 p.m. and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sept. 5 at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 6.
* TICKETS: Tickets are available for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. Tickets are available by calling (800) 884-NHRA (6472), or online at www.NHRATIX.com.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. One hour of qualifying coverage will air on Sunday, Sept. 5 at 10 a.m. (ET). NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute news magazine show will air on Sept. 5 at 11 a.m. (ET). Two more qualifying shows will air on Sept. 5, a two-hour and 30-minute show at 11:30 a.m. (ET), and a two hour show at 5 p.m. (ET). Five hours of final eliminations coverage will air on Monday, Sept. 6, starting at 1 p.m. (ET).
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil also will feature competition in all categories of the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1 and eliminations begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2 and continue through Monday, Sept. 6.
* GET SCREENED AMERICA PRO MOD SERIES: NHRA's newest touring series will make its eighth start of the 10-race season at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. The series features some of the world's fastest and most unique doorslammer cars, with an eclectic mix of vintage and late-model body styles, in quarter-mile competition. The first of four rounds of qualifying will be held on Friday, Sept. 3 at 4:30 p.m. The first round of eliminations is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 5. Eliminations will continue on Monday, Sept. 6.