JOLIET, ILL (Sept. 29) Larry Dixon and Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster turned in the quickest two runs during qualifying to claim the No. 3 starting position Saturday at the Inaugural NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. Dixon entered the...
JOLIET, ILL (Sept. 29) Larry Dixon and Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster turned in the quickest two runs during qualifying to claim the No. 3 starting position Saturday at the Inaugural NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.
Dixon entered the final day of qualifying as the No. 3 qualifier based on his lap of 4.531 seconds at 320.20 mph set on Friday afternoon. Dixon followed up his early run with an early shut off in the left lane, the lane that Crew Chief Dick LaHaie believes to be the better of the two.
The Miller Lite team started things off on the right foot Saturday as their first lap of 4.525 seconds at 320.74 mph was the quickest of the third qualifying session. The pass lowered their e.t. mark for the weekend, but kept Dixon in the No. 3 spot. The final qualifying session saw Dixon again drive to low elapsed time of the round (4.514 seconds at 320.58 mph), this time in the left lane, which helped LaHaie and crew gain the valuable data they missed on Friday night.
"Things went for us today the way we had hoped they would," said LaHaie, who has now tuned Dixon to a top four qualifying position at 15 of 20 races this season. "As far as the run we lost last night, yeah, it was disappointing, but we need to race. We went out there today and ran low e.t. of the first session and low e.t. of the second session. The car is very consistent, we have a race day combination it looks like, and we are going to try not to beat ourselves."
"The conditions today were closer to being like what it will be like tomorrow than they were on Friday," said LaHaie. "Yesterday, that was Star Wars last night. It really surprised me that people didn't run quicker than they did. In June when we were here we ran (4.50) 50 flat and (Kenny) Bernstein set the record at 4.47, it seemed like things were a little different then. We just need to approach this very cautiously."
Unlike the "one-lane" racetrack in Memphis last weekend, LaHaie does not feel the same scenario will hold true this Sunday. "I don't think it will make a difference," said LaHaie. "We ran a .53 and a .52 in the right lane and came back and ran a .51 in the left lane. I would prefer to run in the left lane because it's a little smoother and Larry doesn't have to drive around the bump out there in the middle of the right lane, so we'll try to keep lane choice."
When asked whether spectators could see some more 4.50-second runs during eliminations tomorrow, LaHaie was quick to respond. "Do I think we'll see more runs in the 4.50 range? There's a possibility we'll see some 4.40s."
Dixon will take on No. 14 qualifier Paul Romine in the first round as he looks to keep from repeating his first round loss to Romine here in the 1998 debut race at Route 66. Dixon also hopes to extend Top Fuel's longest current opening round win streak to 22 with a win Sunday morning.
As far as the points race is concerned, after qualifying today Dixon now holds a 26 point lead over Bernstein who took the No. 2 position with a pass of 4.513 seconds at 325.22 mph. Sunday's elimination round will air on ESPN 2 from 6:00-7:30 pm ET and will resume from 8:30-10:00 pm ET.