DIXON IS MOTIVATED BY FINAL THREE TOP FUEL TROPHIES OF THE NHRA INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 23, 2006) - Larry Dixon won't over-think the Miller Lite team's goals for the last two races of the NHRA POWERade drag racing season. He doesn't see a reason to...
DIXON IS MOTIVATED BY FINAL THREE TOP FUEL TROPHIES OF THE NHRA
INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 23, 2006) - Larry Dixon won't over-think the Miller Lite team's goals for the last two races of the NHRA POWERade drag racing season. He doesn't see a reason to complicate something so simple.
"We want to win 11 rounds of racing and that's what I would like to see us do," the two-time Top Fuel champion said. "Why not? If there is money and trophies on the line, why not try and go after them? We're in a position to go after all three, so we may as well do everything we can to win."
Dixon and the crew will start attacking the goals this weekend at the sixth annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Not only is the event title on the line, but the bonus event title as well. Over the past calendar year, Top Fuel drivers have qualified to race in the Budweiser Shootout. The top seven drivers - Dixon included - have been guaranteed a position to compete for the $100,000 that goes to the winner. The eighth driver will be selected from a lottery drawing on Thursday. On Saturday, the eight-car field will battle in a three-round event and the winner gets the big check.
"One of our goals was to get seeded for the Shootout and we did that," Dixon said. "Donnie (Bender, crew chief) had been working on some new clutch setups in hopes that our car becomes more predictable on race day. Whether it's been the car or the racing surface, something hasn't been predictable enough for us and we've spun the tires too much. We're trying to make the car a little more forgiving. We want a bigger window to tune out of on race day."
Dixon shouldn't have any problem preparing to drive at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He's got plenty of winning experience at the track. In just seven seasons of racing in Las Vegas Dixon has earned four wins in five final rounds. Dixon swept the spring and fall events in 2002, won the spring event in 2003, was the runner-up in the spring in 2004 and won the spring race in 2005. He also has two No. 1 qualifying awards from 2001-'02.
"I really like how we run there," Dixon said. "For one reason or another, we seem to do well there. It's an altitude-corrected track and we just seem to have a pretty good setup in the car there. When we know you can run well at a certain track, you have to learn how to take advantage of that."
Since his rookie season of 1995 Dixon has finished in the top three of the final point standings six times including his title runs in 2002-'03. This time Dixon is racing in the No. 7 spot going into the final two events of the season. That means the races take on a completely different meaning.
"Teams are fighting for championships which means there is a little more tension at the second Las Vegas event of the season," Dixon said. "If you are in the middle of that championship fight, it's a good feeing. This year, unfortunately, we're not. So we are going out there to try and win the events and not worry about the points.
"Since the U.S. Nationals (in Indianapolis in September) we've changed a lot of things with the clutch and the fuel system and we've tried to prepare our car to be competitive at the start of next year. Performance-wise we've seen flashes of great things over the last few events and we want to build from that. I certainly don't want to give up any possible race wins in the name of testing for next season, so it's a balancing act. We've shown the kind of performance it takes to be able to win an event and at this point it's just a matter of making the right adjustments to be able to do it."
First up? Saturday's bonus event.
"It's certainly the biggest paying race that we run for during the year," Dixon said. "It's only three rounds because only eight cars gets to run in it. You really have to have your act together going into this event. We only have two qualifying rounds on Friday before we have the Shootout. That means you need to have a good setup in the car by the time you're done on Friday to have a chance at winning on Saturday and Sunday."