Las Vegas II: Dixon sets track record E.T., takes pole

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27) For the second consecutive week Larry Dixon drove Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster to a new track record elapsed time as he secured his second straight No. 1 qualifier position Saturday with a blistering pass of 4.509 ...

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27) For the second consecutive week Larry Dixon drove Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster to a new track record elapsed time as he secured his second straight No. 1 qualifier position Saturday with a blistering pass of 4.509 seconds at 323.19 mph during the AC Delco NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

For his efforts, Dixon now trails points leader Kenny Bernstein by a mere 14 points heading into Sunday's elimination rounds where he will put Top Fuel's longest consecutive first round win streak (24 events) to the test against No. 16 qualifier Brady Kalivoda. Dixon's low-qualifying effort Saturday was the 12th of his career and was his fourth on the season (Brainerd, Memphis, Dallas, Las Vegas), marking a personal season-best mark for the Indianapolis-based pilot. His record-breaking pass was his career-best qualifying effort at The Strip and also resulted in the second straight event where the Miller Lite Dragster has taken the pole.

Dixon's day began as the No. 4 qualifier based on his lap of 4.602 seconds at 315.93 mph set on Friday afternoon. After breaking a blower belt on his second qualifying pass Friday night, Dixon and the Miller Lite Team came out in the heat of the day and impressively ran low elapsed time of the third session with a lap of 4.527 seconds at 323.04 mph to take the early pole position. Not quite satisfied with his earlier run, Crew Chief Dick LaHaie turned up the wick and tuned Dixon to the track record elapsed time and locked up the low qualifier spot.

"Dick LaHaie has brought an awful lot to the table for us," said Dixon. "(Team owner) Prudhomme has always had the financing and we as a group had a lot of talent, but maybe we just didn't know what to do with it. When LaHaie came over it took us a little while to get into the groove of things but now this year, I guess basically since Brainerd, we have had a real, real strong car. I don't know about you all, but I am impressed. The best we had ever run as a team before was a 4.50 flat, so to come up to an elevation like this and run a 4.50 here, well, I am very impressed."

Dixon's No. 1 qualifying run snapped Bernstein's streak as the only Top Fuel pole winner in NHRA Winston Drag Racing history at The Strip in the facility's two-race history. "I never even realized that Kenny was the only number one qualifier and all that at this track," said Dixon. "You go into every race trying to be low qualifier and trying to win the event. That's what everybody out here is trying to do and this place is no different. There are some things I think at the past couple of races that Dick LaHaie was able to learn about our car. We have been running great since Brainerd, but it has been running even better since race day at Reading. The run that got me here was when we came out for the first qualifying run (Friday) and ran a (4.609) 60 flat. That was a lot better than we had done than the two previous times at this place. I knew that LaHaie had a handle on things and it was just a matter of fine tuning it and chasing the track conditions to where we could get some performance. If our car can run a 4.50 then there are five other cars out here that can run the same thing. We are not alone in that department, we are just the fortunate ones to get it done this week."

Dixon and team begin the final eight rounds of the season Sunday in their quest for a first Winston Top Fuel championship. Action is scheduled for a 10:30 AM (PT) start time. ESPN 2 will provide television coverage of the elimination rounds beginning from 2:00-3:00 PM (ET) and continuing from 7:00-10:00 PM (ET) later that evening.

- www.snakeracing.com

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Don Prudhomme , Dick LaHaie , Brady Kalivoda