Pomona: Saturday summary

Dixon wins NHRA's Budweiser Shootout at Pomona Raceway. Kalitta, Wilkerson and Stanfield are top qualifiers. POMONA, Calif. - Larry Dixon had to wait a couple of months, but it paid off Saturday at Pomona Raceway during the K&N Filters ...

Dixon wins NHRA's Budweiser Shootout at Pomona Raceway.
Kalitta, Wilkerson and Stanfield are top qualifiers.

POMONA, Calif. - Larry Dixon had to wait a couple of months, but it paid off Saturday at Pomona Raceway during the K&N Filters Winternationals. Dixon won the Budweiser Shootout bonus race for the Top Fuel category for the second consecutive time.

The 2002 Top Fuel champion pocketed $100,000 for the win, the third bonus event victory of his career.

In other racing action, Doug Kalitta, Tim Wilkerson and Greg Stanfield qualified in the No. 1 positions in their respective categories at the $2 million race. This is the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Dixon's 4.549-second run in his Miller Lite dragster beat rookie Brandon Bernstein's 4.564 at 323.89 in his Budweiser dragster.

Should Dixon win Sunday's eliminations, he will earn a $50,000 double-up bonus given by NHRA.

"What a drag race. For $100,000 to be decided by less than four-thousandths-of-a-second is just amazing," Dixon said. "Brandon is going to be a heck of a driver. He already is. There was a lot of pressure and a lot of pride on the starting line for that race because it means so much to the two beer companies.

"I cut my best light of the weekend and still got left on. I just feel privileged to be able to win this race."

Kalitta turned in a career-best run with a 4.482 pass at 332.18 to lead the Top Fuel category. Kalitta earned his eighth No. 1 qualifying spot with the track record pass.

"It's been a while since we ran under 4.50 (seconds)," Kalitta said. "The car left really well and you could tell it hooked up early. It was a pretty exciting run.

"This is a very good way to start the season. We have made some changes to the car, and we have been all over the board. We need to get more consistent, but we are looking to do that and challenge for the Top Fuel championship."

Dixon is qualified in the No. 3 spot while Bernstein is in the No. 4 position. Clay Millican is in the No. 2 position with a run of 4.522 at 326.79.

This is the first professional race for Bernstein, who replaced his recently retired father in the famed red dragster.

"I didn't feel any pressure out there, we just tried to go out there and do our jobs," Bernstein said. "I am very pleased with the weekend so far. Coming into the race we knew we had a good car and I just wanted to be as competitive as possible."

Wilkerson led the Funny Car category all weekend. He went 4.759 at 318.32 in a Firebird for his fifth top qualifying position of his career.

"This is a terrific way to start the season," Wilkerson said. "I thought I might lose the top spot in the final session. We were trying to stand on it, but it didn't make it. We know what we've got to do tomorrow to win the race. We need to be consistent with the car and not let someone else beat me."

Greg Stanfield earned his third career No. 1 qualifier and first in Pro Stock with a track record run of 6.772 at 203.77 in his DBP Enterprises Dodge Neon to lead the quickest 16-car field in NHRA history.

"To be able to make this Neon run like it did took a lot of work and we're real happy," Stanfield said. "I look at the Pro Stock category as being two races every weekend - one race is just to get in the show and there's another race on Sunday."

Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Clay Millican , Larry Dixon , Doug Kalitta , Greg Stanfield , Tim Wilkerson