CHANDLER, Ariz. (March 6, 2004) -- Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite team qualified in the No. 13 position Saturday at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix after the two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion powered his ...
CHANDLER, Ariz. (March 6, 2004) -- Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite team qualified in the No. 13 position Saturday at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix after the two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion powered his Miller-backed rail to a performance of 4.648 seconds at 263.98 mph.
Dixon and crew chief Dick LaHaie continued to gain information on the new setback supercharger setup, following the team's decision to change from the traditional supercharger after the season-opening Winternationals last weekend in Pomona, Calif.
On Saturday's first qualifying effort, Dixon's dragster lost traction and coasted to a run of 11.755 at 75.32. The 4.648 at 263.98 was the result of a broken blower belt on the final qualifying attempt of the weekend.
"We dropped a cylinder and broke the blower belt and the car still ran a 4.64 on the last run," Dixon said. "We see some very promising signs after just a few runs with the setback blower.
"On two of our runs this weekend the car would have run a 4.54 or 4.55had we not shut off early,and those aren't bad numbers at all. That would have put us in the top half of the field. I think this new setup will come around real soon."
For the first time in young 2004 NHRA season, teams were faced with warm temperatures and a hot, sticky race track, and Sunday's weather forecast calls for a continuation of those balmy conditions. Conditions such as what the race teams had to battle on Saturday are much like what they will be confronted with at tracks in Columbus, Ohio, Englishtown, N.J. and Madison, Ill. later this year.
"The warm conditions didn't affect us," Dixon said. "Anytime the track warms up, you don't have as much grip and the cars don't run as quick. So, we have to adjust the motor and clutch to counter the hot track."
Dixon, who aims to advance to his third successive final round at F.I.R., will match-up against No. 4 qualifier Scott Kalitta in the first round of eliminations which began at 11 a.m. (MT) Sunday.
ESPN2 will televise three hours of final eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 7.