The Dixon Dispatch NHRA Champ Larry Dixon returns to Phoenix. Phoenix, AZ (Feb. 18) - Unlike his Miller Lite Racing teammate Rusty Wallace, reigning NHRA Top Fuel Champ Larry Dixon does not enjoy the same number of opportunities to test his...
The Dixon Dispatch
NHRA Champ Larry Dixon returns to Phoenix.
Phoenix, AZ (Feb. 18) - Unlike his Miller Lite Racing teammate Rusty Wallace, reigning NHRA Top Fuel Champ Larry Dixon does not enjoy the same number of opportunities to test his Miller Lite Dragster as his NASCAR allies. Although the sport of drag racing does see teams occasionally test on Mondays after national events, the major focus of test and tune sessions occurs in the Arizona desert in the weeks leading up to the NHRA season opener in Pomona.J
Because of that, much is made of early incremental numbers during preseason testing that seem to set performance expectations for the upcoming season. For example, much was made of Dixon's best run during the 2002 testing session, which clocked in at an impressive 4.518 seconds in spite of the fact that Dixon shut off prior to making a complete quarter-mile pass. If that run had been carried through, incremental numbers show that it could have easily dipped into the phenomenal 4.4-second range.J
However once actual racing began, the closest Dixon and the Miller Lite team were able to come to meeting that elapsed time was their 2002 season best pass of 4.509 seconds (Pomona). It is that kind of variance that has Dixon asking fans not to expect too much after learning about fantastic testing results.
"To be honest, the weather is so different in just one month's time from January to February, that I think it is a little unrealistic to get the same kind of performance," said Dixon. "With that being said, we also have a lot of runs on that race track and we have a lot of good data that will allow us to adapt pretty easily."
Dixon and crew chief Dick LaHaie were able to put 2002's test data from Phoenix's Firebird International Raceway to good use at last year's Phoenix race as the Miller Lite Dragster advanced to the final round before a part malfunction cost the Miller team its second straight win after a Winternationals victory two weeks prior.
"Does Phoenix owe me one? No," said Dixon. "Phoenix doesn't owe us a thing.JI really enjoy running there. The first race that I ever won was at Firebird (Feb.1995) and I have a lot of good memories. As far as last year goes, we had a part failure and it cost us the win."
With his first NHRA PowerAde championship secured after an amazing 2002 season, Dixon has picked up right where he left off. While his repeat wins of the $100,000 Shootout and Winternationals made for big headlines, a big payday and the lead in the point standings, Dixon still keeps a level head coming into the 172nd national event of his career.
"Now we are just going to try and go out there this weekend and earn our keep," stated Dixon prior to the 19th Annual Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals. "Try to get qualified pretty good and see how the weekend goes. I'm excited about going there, especially after having a weekend like we did at Pomona. Anytime you have got a car like that, you want to race everyday of the week."
Dixon, the second-winningest driver among active NHRA Top Fuel pilots, does acknowledge that while his quick start may have given him some momentum, it does not guarantee success for the remainder of the year.
"I think in the big picture (Pomona) was important because that's four round wins," said Dixon. "We have more round wins than anybody else right now, but they have to total up if you want to win the championship. It was a great start and I am real thrilled about it.JDoes that give us an advantage this weekend? Not really because the only advantage we have is that we have the most points going into this race.JThat really doesn't help you at all during the weekend. It will help you in November and we are going try and get some more help this weekend."