CHANDLER, Ariz. (Jan. 24, 2005) -- While you probably won't see the low 4.5-second elapsed times or speeds in excess of 330-mph that thrill race fans, preseason testing may be as vital to the success of any professional drag racing team as any of...
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Jan. 24, 2005) -- While you probably won't see the low 4.5-second elapsed times or speeds in excess of 330-mph that thrill race fans, preseason testing may be as vital to the success of any professional drag racing team as any of the 23 NHRA national events. An encouraging test session can vault a team to a solid start to the season which can ultimately lead towards a championship run come November.
Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion and 35-time NHRA winner Larry Dixon begins his 11th season as driver of Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite dragster at the National Time Trials, Jan. 28-31, at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix, the track where Dixon earned his first career victory in 1995.
After spending long hours at the team's Brownsburg, Ind. race shop working on the Miller Lite dragster, Dixon and company will have the opportunity to see the fruits of their winter labors when the 8,000 horsepower nitromethane-powered rail breathes to life for the first time in 2005.
"It's time to get going," Dixon said. "The team has worked 12-18 hour days through the winter to try and come up with a better product than we finished out the year with. We have to go out and compare ourselves against the other teams to see if all the work and effort was constructive."
Dixon posted his quickest E.T. of 2004 at the season-finale when he blasted his dragster to a performance of 4.516-seconds. Crew chief Dick LaHaie is arguably the most accomplished tuner in the Top Fuel ranks with four titles under his belt, along with the 1987 NHRA Top Fuel crown as a driver/tuner. The team's late season performance showed signs of a championship-caliber race car and LaHaie hopes some new pieces and a perfected tune-up puts them in position to challenge for another title.
"We're going to run some new equipment and refine what we were doing at the end of last season," LaHaie said. "We'll try the new equipment and carry on with the program that we had. Anything that we're doing should do nothing more than refine what we had at the end of last season."
Dixon knows he won't be competing for any race wins or NHRA points this weekend, but his experience and feel inside the race car can be invaluable to future success of the team.
"Testing for me is to be able to help out the team the best I can," Dixon said. "Whether driving a certain way or giving them input on what I feel in the car, my goal is to just do everything I can to help the cause."