Dixon, T. Pedregon and J. Coughlin visit winner's circle at O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals. MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Larry Dixon earned his eighth win of the season and the 24th of his career Sunday at the 15th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at ...
Dixon, T. Pedregon and J. Coughlin visit winner's circle at O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals.
MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Larry Dixon earned his eighth win of the season and the 24th of his career Sunday at the 15th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park.
Dixon sped his Miller Lite dragster down the quarter-mile drag strip in 4.600 seconds at 318.69 mph to outlast Tony Schumacher who ran a slower 4.798 at 286.64 in the U.S. Army dragster. Dixon made four consecutive runs in the 4.60s over the course of the day en route to the win. Dixon drove past Chris Karamesines, Bruce Litton, and Kenny Bernstein before his meeting with Schumacher.
"For us to both make it to the final was cool since we both are remembered for our huge crashes here in 2000," said the 35-year-old Dixon. "For our team to get the win is great because we extended our points lead with four races to go."
Dixon's second round win over Litton set up a key matchup with rival and POWERade championship contenders Bernstein in the semifinal with Dixon getting lane choice. With lane choice being a priority for eliminations, Dixon selected the left lane and sped to a 4.637 pass at 315.19 while Bernstein lost traction almost immediately and rolled to a pass of 11.579 at 73.04. Dixon's win stretched his lead in the standings to 104 points over Bernstein.
"We're running out of races," said Dixon. "If I lose that round, there isn't that much time to get those points back. That was a huge round (win) for the team. Going head-to-head up against him is in our favor this year and that's how (Bernstein) won last year. He crushed us last year when he faced us. This year we have the winning margin (6-2). In the end, when it's tallied out, I hope that makes the difference."
Pedregon scored his career high fifth win of the year and the 18th of his career as he powered his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to the finish line in 4.909 at 315.12 to defeat Del Worsham. Worsham lost traction briefly in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird and recorded a 5.144 at 263.15 for the runner-up finish. It was Pedregon's second consecutive win in as many weeks as he inched closer to team-owner John Force in the POWERade Funny Car standings. Pedregon now trails Force by 80 points.
"Well that was a good day in the office," said Pedregon, who also was the No. 1 qualifier at the event. "My car was running pretty steady and we knew Worsham was capable of running quick. I didn't realize he got out in front of me by so much so early, but that's drag racing right now. The competition is there.
"The key to success in drag racing is be able to string the wins together like that. We have been fortunate to do that the last couple of weeks and we have closed the gap on John a little bit. Nothing personal against John, but I think he finds it interesting. But he thrives on pressure, so I want to keep it as mild as I can. But I want to be realistic and the clock is ticking on how much time we have left.
Pedregon score his win by running past Todd Paton, Dean Skuza, teammate Gary Densham and Worsham. Force Racing still occupies the top three spots in the standings but Worsham has moved within 29 points of the third place Densham.
Coughlin's Chevy Cavalier clocked a 6.849 at 200.80 pass, which was just enough to outrun rookie Gene Wilson and his pass of 6.877 at 200.20 for Coughlin's fifth win of the year. Coughlin had a significant first round victory when he eliminated Greg Anderson in the first round. Following Anderson, Coughlin eliminated Kurt Johnson, Kenny Koretsky and Wilson.
"When we started the day off we knew we were going to have our hands full with Greg," said Coughlin. "One of us was going to go on and make up some points. Then (current points leader) Jim (Yates) when out in the second round, our goal was to try and pace ourselves round by round. To pick up a couple of rounds on Jim today was big for us. It's made the points race tighter and more interesting.
"We have high expectations of ourselves to remain at this level where we are at, and with four races to go we need to make up some rounds if we are going to contend for the championship. It's going to be a power-packed finale."
It was Coughlin's 28th career victory in 39 final round appearances, tying him with Darrell Alderman for third place all-time for most Pro Stock wins.
The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., with the second annual Craftsman 75th Anniversary Nationals, Sept. 26-29.