CHANDLER, Ariz. (March 7, 2004) -- With just four runs on a brand new engine combination, combined with the tricky track conditions because of warm temperatures in the Valley of the Sun, two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon and...
CHANDLER, Ariz. (March 7, 2004) -- With just four runs on a brand new engine combination, combined with the tricky track conditions because of warm temperatures in the Valley of the Sun, two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite team advanced to round two Sunday at the 20th annual CSK Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.
After edging No. 4 qualifier Scott Kalitta in the opening round of eliminations, Dixon and the Miller Lite team suffered a disappointing defeat to Kalitta's cousin Doug in round two at F.I.R.
In one of the closest matches of the opening round of Top Fuel eliminations, Dixon powered his Miller Lite dragster to a performance of 4.582 seconds at 298.47 mph to hold off S. Kalitta's 4.957, 316.52 effort.
"It was quite an exciting round because around 1,000 foot, one of the return lines to the fuel tank failed and sprayed fuel all inside the cockpit for the last 300 feet of the run," Dixon said. "I couldn't see. The windshield broke off the car. The visor broke off my helmet and you're kind of guessing as to where the finish line is at, and we ended up winning a tight race."
In his second round two battle in as many weeks with D. Kalitta, Dixon, who won his first career race at the Arizona facility in 1995, and his Miller Lite rail were ahead at the 1,000-foot mark, before the car lost the blower belt and suffered engine damage allowing Kalitta to drive by for the narrow victory. Dixon posted a time of 4.853 at 243.55 to Kalitta's 4.843 at 293.60.
"Anytime there is a tire-spinning contest you hate to lose," Dixon said. "That's just how it goes sometimes. With the amount of things we changed in the motor this week and you're going up against the Kalittas and they've got almost a year on this combination, they were certainly beatable in the second round. We beat one of their cars in the first round. They were vulnerable, but we didn't take advantage of it."
Brandon Bernstein defeated Doug Kalitta in the final round at Phoenix. Following the second of 23 events on the 2004 NHRA schedule, Dixon sits in eighth place in the Top Fuel standings with 94 points.
"I like what I see with everything we're doing with the setback blower-setup going into Gainesville (Fla.). I think it will be a great race track, so you'll see how good this new setback blower combination is in good weather. Every run we make with it will be improved."
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 35th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals, March 18-21, in Gainesville, Fla.