RICHMOND, VA (Apr. 30) - Using an impressive series of 13 out of 14 consecutive laps ranging between 4.62 and 4.68 seconds, Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster carried over his success from a victory in Houston two...
RICHMOND, VA (Apr. 30) - Using an impressive series of 13 out of 14 consecutive laps ranging between 4.62 and 4.68 seconds, Larry Dixon and the Don Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite Dragster carried over his success from a victory in Houston two weeks ago to win his 10th career NHRA title Sunday at the Moto1.net NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.
Dixon, the No. 4 seed who posted a runner up finish in Richmond last year, began his return trip to the final round in Virginia with a single pass in the first round (4.626 seconds at 316.60 mph) as No. 13 seed Jim Bailey was unable to run due to mechanical problems. Then, for only the second meeting with Doug Kalitta in his career, Dixon posted a lap of 4.684 seconds at 305.91 mph to better Kalitta's smoke-filled time of 7.909 seconds at 99.84 mph. In the semi-finals, Dixon saw himself in a rematch with Doug Herbert, his semi-final opponent two weeks ago in Houston. Dixon would again prove to be victorious over the Snap-On Tools team as the Miller Lite Dragster pedaled to a winning time of 5.750 seconds at 254.57 mph to beat Herbert's effort of 8.879 at 108.94 mph.
Dixon's 20th final round appearance of his career would be his the first championship match-up against rival driver No. 2 seed Kenny Bernstein since he lost in the finals at Gainesville, FL in 1998. Dixon would not let his second chance pass him by as he ran a time of 4.674 seconds at 314.53 mph to defeat the Budweiser King's lap of 4.692 seconds at 306.12 mph.
"I'll tell you what a win!" said Dixon upon receiving his tenth golden statue. "Winning a race like that really takes a lot out of you, especially against Kenny Bernstein. He is very strong. Anytime the two beer cars race there is major pressure to win. The last thing you want to do is have to call Milwaukee and tell them that you got smoked by Bernstein. That was a great race win. I could hear him the whole time, but I couldn't see him. I just kept trying to focus on getting the win light and I was drawn to it. When I saw it come on, he passed me but I didn't care, we had the win.
Dixon further explained what winning this race meant to him. "Everyone needs a break to win a race and we got ours when Herbert smoked the tires in the semi finals. Our car was far from being the quickest, but we were consistent and we won. This was the first time I have ever beaten Bernstein in the final and it is also the first time I have ever won back-to-back races. I keep thanking (crew chief) Dick LaHaie, but you don't know how important he is and how much of a great job all the crew guys did. LaHaie is everything to this team. He is a very sharp guy and if I am lucky I will end my career with him as my crew chief. I haven't been in a car this strong since 1995 (his rookie of the year season). This final round was just brutal. If we would have lost, we would have dropped to fourth in the points. By winning, we gave everyone the opportunity to catch Tony Schumacher for the points lead. Winning that round really helped us keep our head above water. I have won poles, won Indy, and set national records, but the one thing I haven't done is win the Winston Championship and I would love to do that for Snake."
Team owner Don Prudhomme expressed his happiness for Dixon, as well as Snake Racing teammate, U.S. Tobacco Funny Car driver Ron Capps, who posted a runner-up finish. "It's a great moment for Larry, Dick and the whole Miller Lite team and it's just fabulous," said Snake. "Larry is like a son to me, so I am really thrilled for him because of all that he has achieved. With Ron we were so close, but the positive side is that it moved him up in the points and his time will come."
Dixon's win, his second in a row this season, moved the Miller Lite Dragster from third place up to second (480), just 24 points behind the leading Schumacher (504). It also equals the highest that Dixon has ranked in the points race (second) since his runner up finish at the 1999 NHRA season opening Winternationals in Pomona.
The Miller Lite Team hopes to keep the positive momentum going as they travel to Atlanta next week for the 20th Annual Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals (May 4-7).
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