Pomona Top Fuel Preview

DIXON READY TO IMPROVE ON 1998 TOP FUEL EFFORT POMONA, Calif. -- The way Larry Dixon and his Miller Lite crew opened the 1998 season, many felt the addition of new crew chief Dale Armstrong was the key to a championship-winning ...

DIXON READY TO IMPROVE ON 1998 TOP FUEL EFFORT POMONA, Calif. -- The way Larry Dixon and his Miller Lite crew opened the 1998 season, many felt the addition of new crew chief Dale Armstrong was the key to a championship-winning season for the Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme-owned Top Fuel team. Dixon, from San Diego, defeated Jim Head to win NHRA's season-opening event at Pomona Raceway one year ago in a thrilling, side-by-side finish. It was an emotional victory for the second-generation driver: His father is also a past Winternationals Top Fuel winner (1970). "Everything was perfect about that weekend," Dixon said. "It was quite an emotional weekend all around. It couldn't have turned out any better." However, the victory celebration was short-lived. At Phoenix, Dixon was a first round loser. At Gainesville, Fla, he appeared in his only other final round of the season, a runner-up effort to Kenny Bernstein. What followed was an onslaught of first round losses and missed opportunities. Dixon finished seventh in the Winston standings for the second year in a row. Dixon says the quick win at Pomona was merely a mirage. "It made it look like since Dale came aboard that he was the missing piece of the puzzle and we were going to be really strong in 1998," Dixon said. "As it turned out, we struggled with the summer combination and fell behind. We had problems getting the car down the track. But after Dale and the guys developed the five-disc clutch we started to run well during the last part of the season." Dixon recorded a career-best elapsed time of 4.562 seconds at the Revell Nationals and the team seemed to have a winning combination figured out following semi-final efforts at the fall event in Dallas and the Winston Finals. Dixon hopes the momentum gained during the final half of the season will provide a boost as the team enters the 1999 season. Dixon, 32, will begin his pursuit of a 1999 Winston championship at the 39th annual AutoZone Winternationals, Feb. 4-7 at Pomona Raceway. The $1.7 million race is the first of 22 events in the $40-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series for 1999. "During the off-season we tried to make some gains from 1998," said Dixon, who posted a 4.53 second run at pre-season testing in Tucson, Ariz. "Dale and the guys worked to fine-tune the five-disc clutch combination and focused some on engine development. We've had a year to grow as a team with Dale on board and I think we'll see some positive results this season. We're excited about the season." Dixon says the strategy for winning races hasn't changed, it's only got quicker. "The key to winning now is running quick," Dixon said. "It's hard to believe, but 4.65 (seconds) isn't going to win races anymore. You've got to be able to run 4.50s to get the job done. Our focus this season is to be able to consistently run in the 4.50s in order to be in a position to win some races." * 1999 Performance Prediction: Dixon expects the current quickest and fastest marks (4.523 seconds at 326.44 mph) in NHRA Top Fuel to be bettered in 1999. "I think the E.T. is going to come quicker than the mile per hour," Dixon said. "I think we'll see a run in the 4.40s this season. As far as a 330 mph run, I think someone is going to have to develop some new trick part before that's going to be a reality."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Larry Dixon