Phoenix: Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing preview

Larry Dixon, Top Fuel Dragster Dixon is the defending Top Fuel champion of the Phoenix event. One year ago, he was the No. 8 qualifier and defeated Morgan Lucas, Brandon Bernstein, Tony Schumacher and David Grubnic on his way to victory. Dixon...

Larry Dixon, Top Fuel Dragster

Dixon is the defending Top Fuel champion of the Phoenix event. One year ago, he was the No. 8 qualifier and defeated Morgan Lucas, Brandon Bernstein, Tony Schumacher and David Grubnic on his way to victory. Dixon also won at Phoenix in 1995.

Dixon began his Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing tenure two weeks ago at the Kragen O-Reilly Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. It was definitely not the debut for which the team had hoped. Weather played havoc with the qualifying schedule, and the field was set after just one round of qualifying. Dixon's dragster experienced violent tire shake causing a failure in the car's ignition. Dixon was unable to complete the qualifying attempt and did not qualify for eliminations. It was Dixon's first DNQ since 2006.

Dixon won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 2002 and '03. He is currently third on the NHRA's all-time Top Fuel winner's list with 43 victories. Joe Amato is in second place with 52 wins; Tony Schumacher tops the list with 56 wins. Dixon is 10th on the NHRA's all-time professional victories list. He trails ninth-place Dave Schultz by two wins. Dixon was the 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year.

Dixon prior to Phoenix:

"I was disappointed in not qualifying at Pomona, but with everything that transpired, that wasn't the only surprising thing that weekend. A lot of teams had trouble, some more than others, but the end result is that we missed the cut, so we'll do our best to rebound this week in Phoenix.

"It's always nice to be the defending champion. I won in Phoenix last year, and I expect good things out of our team so I am definitely looking forward to this race. There are certain race tracks where I believe certain teams do better than others. Sometimes it has to do with the weather conditions, the elevation or even just the track surface itself. Sometimes you don't know why, but you feel better about certain tracks. Alan (team owner Alan Johnson) and I have both done well at Phoenix in the past so we're definitely hoping for good things. I know I'm looking forward to getting four qualifying runs in, and once we get our car qualified start looking forward to race day."

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Del Worsham, Funny Car:

Worsham began his Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing tenure two weeks ago at the Kragen O'Reilly Winternationals. After qualifying second in the lone qualifying round, Worsham advanced to the rain-delayed second round where he lost to Gary Densham. Worsham is currently in fifth place in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series point standings.

Worsham finished 13th in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Funny Car standings. He won a race and earned his 11th career berth in the US Smokeless Showdown. He has won 22 races in 35 final-round appearances in his career.

Worsham won the Phoenix event in 2002 and '04. One year ago, he did not qualify for the race.

Worsham prior to Phoenix:

"I'm looking forward to picking up where everything left off after Pomona. The abbreviated qualifying and bad weather made Pomona miserable, but it ended up being a pretty good start for our team. We lost in the second round, but we ran pretty well so I'm definitely ready to get in the car for qualifying on Friday. The weather forecast looks great, so we should be able to have a full event this time.

"I've had some success at Phoenix; I definitely like going there, but that doesn't mean I have any particular advantage at Firebird. I am with a new team and new crew guys so my past success at Phoenix doesn't really mean that much. We had a really good test at Phoenix about a month ago, and that probably means more than races I've won there in the past. Hopefully, the success we had in testing will help us when we race there for real this weekend.

"I have a lot of fans in Phoenix because when I was driving for my family's team, our sponsor was based there so I am definitely looking forward to seeing some old friends and familiar faces. I'm the same guy; I'm just driving for a new team, and I hope we can make everyone proud of us with our performance this weekend."

-credit: ajaar

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Del Worsham , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , David Grubnic , Gary Densham , Morgan Lucas