Phoenix: Larry Dixon preview

* Larry Dixon won the 50th annual NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. last weekend making him the points leader entering Phoenix. Dixon is 26 points ahead of second-place driver Doug Kalitta, and it is the first time either of Al-Anabi...

* Larry Dixon won the 50th annual NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. last weekend making him the points leader entering Phoenix. Dixon is 26 points ahead of second-place driver Doug Kalitta, and it is the first time either of Al-Anabi Racing drivers has been the points leader following an event since the team started last season. Dixon was the No. 2 qualifier at Pomona; he defeated Steve Chrisman, Brandon Bernstein, Tony Schumacher and Kalitta on his way to victory circle.

* Dixon won at Firebird International Raceway in 1995 and 2008. One year ago, he was the No. 1 qualifier; he defeated Terry Haddock and Doug Kalitta before losing Brandon Bernstein in the semifinals.

* Dixon won five races last season: Gainesville, Fla., Topeka, Kan., Englishtown, N.J., Norwalk, Ohio and Reading, Pa. He finished second in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel point standings just two points out of the championship in the inaugural season for Al-Anabi Racing.

* Dixon was the No. 1 qualifier nine times last season including five of the six races in the Countdown to 1 NHRA Playoffs; he has never won more poles in a season in his career. Dixon was the No. 1 qualifier more than any other driver in Top Fuel or Funny Car last year. He was the No. 1 qualifier seven times in 2002. Dixon has been the No. 1 qualifier 40 times in his career.

* The Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel dragster has a new paint scheme for the 2010 season. The familiar maroon, black and gold from last year's dragster has been replaced with a maroon paint scheme with silver, black and gold accents. The Al-Anabi Racing team transporters reflect a similar pattern. In addition, the words Al-Anabi Racing are now displayed inside an oval.

* 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 49 victories. Joe Amato is in second place with 52 wins; Tony Schumacher tops the list with 61 wins. Dixon is tied with Don Prudhomme for eighth place on the NHRA's all-time career victories list; Dixon was the 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year.

Dixon prior to Phoenix:

"Winning the 50th Winternationals was really cool. I remember I had the opportunity to win the 50th U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, but (Tony) Schumacher beat us. That loss had more sting to it than others. So winning this past weekend was really special; I understand the significance. They gave all three winners a golden "Wally" instead of a regular winner's trophy so that tells me NHRA things it's bigger than other races, too. I feel honored and fortunate to have been able to get the win for Al-Anabi Racing on Sunday. It all came together perfectly, and I'm grateful for that.

"Going into Phoenix last year, we had just missed the first race of the season; it was hard to accept that we didn't qualify for the Al-Anabi Racing Team's first race. We knew we were a capable team and that it was just a matter of getting more than one run to show our work. (The field was set after only one round of qualifying due to weather.) So last year in Phoenix, sitting on the pole, going to the semis and having a freak part failure keep us out of the finals reassured us we were a good team.

"This year, our confidence is a lot higher about being able to go to an event and have an opportunity to get the pole and win the race. From that standpoint, we're definitely more of a team than we were a year ago. Jason (crew chief Jason McCulloch) knows all the parts; I know the team, and the team knows me. Our Al-Anabi Team has a couple hundred more runs together than we did last year at this time, and it shows.

"It's been a while since I've led the points, and I am happy to be called the points leader even though it's so early in the season. We got as high as second last year, but we never led the points at the end of an event weekend; it's nice not to be chasing. We earned 122 points at Pomona, and that's 112 more than we got at Pomona last year, but again, it's just one race. It's a long season, and we have only just begun what will be a 23-race battle for the championship."

-source: ajaar

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Don Prudhomme , Brandon Bernstein , Steve Chrisman