Seattle: Dixon finals report

KENT, WA (July 28) Larry Dixon kept Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster second in the Winston Top Fuel points chase Sunday after reaching the semifinal round for the 12th time after 15 races this season at the 14th Annual Prolong Northwest ...

KENT, WA (July 28) Larry Dixon kept Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster second in the Winston Top Fuel points chase Sunday after reaching the semifinal round for the 12th time after 15 races this season at the 14th Annual Prolong Northwest Nationals.

Dixon entered the day as the No. 3 qualifier and was in search of his first career victory at Seattle after winning last week's NHRA Top Fuel crown at Denver's Bandimere Speedway. The Miller Lite Team's opening round opponent was No. 14 qualifier Gordie Bonin, marking the first time the two teams have squared off. Dixon's pass of 4.670 seconds at 309.84 mph extended the longest current opening round win streak in Top Fuel action to 16 consecutive races as he defeated Bonin's lap of 9.398 seconds at 82.95 mph.

The second round saw Dixon take on No. 6 qualifier David Grubnic, who defeated Rhonda Hartman Smith in the first round. Dixon used the second quickest elapsed time of the second round (4.559 seconds at 321.42 mph) to advance past Grubnic (4.609 seconds at 316.60 mph) for the win and a trip to the semifinals. Dixon's win improved his season record to 4-0 against Grubnic and is now 8-1 over the Montana Express pilot for his career.

Dixon's semifinal appearance would be his 12th of the season and the fourth meeting of the year with No. 2 qualifier Kenny Bernstein in a match up that would dictate the points leader in Top Fuel. In a terrific side-by-side race, Dixon fell just short (4.603 seconds at 317.49 mph) as Bernstein moved on with a lap of 4.589 seconds at 314.61 mph. Gary Scelzi won the Top Fuel title, while Snake Racing teammate Ron Capps produced a runner-up finish in Funny Car.

"Well, I guess we could have lost in the first round, or even the second round because it was so tight," said Dixon. "The way it was though we were in a close one in the semis and came out on the wrong end of it. That race was pretty tight. Dick LaHaie went up there and was not going to give up the round by smoking the tires. We went up and the car slowed. It was nothing intentional, it just happened. And as it turned out, Bernstein smoked the tires in the final. But I think we have a really good car. We have been running well at two out of the first three races on the West Coast swing and we have gained ground in the points. Now we go into Sonoma where, like everyone else, we would like a win. I am pretty happy with the team and the car right now and I think I have been driving pretty well."

With the semifinal round finish, Dixon (1,238) remains second in the point standings, just 24 behind Bernstein (1,262). The Miller Lite Team takes their show on the road to Sears Point Raceway at Sonoma, Calif., next weekend (Aug. 3-5) for the 14th Annual Fram Autolite Nationals.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Ron Capps , Gary Scelzi , David Grubnic , Don Prudhomme , Dick LaHaie