DIXON DRIVES MILLER LITE DRAGSTER TO SEMIFINAL FINISH AT HOT MEMPHIS RACE MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2005) & ...
DIXON DRIVES MILLER LITE DRAGSTER TO SEMIFINAL FINISH AT HOT MEMPHIS RACE
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2005) Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon continued to go rounds as the Miller Lite driver posted a semifinal effort Sunday at Memphis Motorsports Park. This is the third consecutive race where Dixon has advanced to at least the semifinal round of eliminations.
Dixon qualified his Miller Lite dragster in the No. 2 position on Saturday with a qualifying-best run of 4.618-seconds. The opening round kicked off at 3 p.m. (CT) where temperatures reached triple digits for the second straight day in the Mid-South. Dixon bested John Smith in the first round and then edged Melanie Troxel for the second consecutive week, before falling in a narrow match-up with rookie Top Fuel racer Rod Fuller.
In the heat of the day, Dixon used a solid run of 4.885 seconds at 247.79 mph in the Miller Lite/Ameriquest rail to best the No. 15 qualifier in the opening round of Top Fuel eliminations. Smith drove his dragster to a pass of 5.017 at 270.37. Dixon's Don "the Snake" Prudhomme-owned dragster clocked the quickest 1,000-foot elapsed time of the first round, but the engine dropped two cylinders and lost a blower belt on the run.
"For one reason or another, we kept dropping cylinders all weekend," Dixon said. "It put a hole out early and knocked the belt off before 1,000-foot and we coasted to the win. Luckily, John Smith had more trouble than we did."
The California native then used a tune-up from crew chief Dick LaHaie to drive to the second quickest E.T. of round two as the Miller Lite/Lucas Oil car recorded a run of 4.770 at 303.30 to narrowly defeat Troxel's dragster, which raced to a run of 4.833 at 301.47.
"Dick LaHaie got to make adjustments to our car to try and improve the performance and he did that," Dixon said. "The blower belt stayed on, but we still dropped cylinders. We were on the right side of a good race."
In one of the best races of the day, the Miller Lite dragster was ahead at half track, but a dropped cylinder allowing Fuller to inch by and score the narrow victory. Dixon's dragster clocked a run of 4.679 at 308.00, while Fuller drove his car to a run of 4.673 at 302.21 to earn the round win.
"Dick (LaHaie) was pretty frustrated," Dixon said. "The car looked like it was on a low 4.60 run, but it put a cylinder out early again and it was just a close race. We were on the wrong side that time. It was just one of those racing deals. I feel good that we made ground on Doug (Kalitta) and tightened things up in the points chase.
"I wanted to be within around 100 points and we were able to do that. We knocked the points deficit down going into Indy and between the three cars, whoever goes on a run at the last four or five races is going to be the champ."
Dixon remains third in the POWERade Top Fuel standings. The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 51st annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Aug. 31-Sept. 5, at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind. Dixon is a two-time winner of the prestigious race (1995, 2001). The Miller Lite team will test at I.R.P. August 23-24 in preparation for the U.S. Nationals.