From The Snake Pit Larry Dixon earns first Career Win at Kent CARQUEST Nationals KENT, WA. (July 27)- Defending POWERade NHRA Champion and current points leader Larry Dixon drove his Miller Lite dragster to a first-ever career victory at the ...
From The Snake Pit
Larry Dixon earns first Career Win at Kent CARQUEST Nationals
KENT, WA. (July 27)- Defending POWERade NHRA Champion and current points leader Larry Dixon drove his Miller Lite dragster to a first-ever career victory at the CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals at Pacific Raceway. Dixon defeated Doug Kalitta in the finals with a lap of 4.672 E.T. at 316.82 mph.
For the first round of Sunday eliminations Dixon and the Don Prudhomme owned dragster paired against No.16 qualifier Mike Strasburg. Strasburg's time of 4.968 E.T (260.36) was not enough for Dixon's 4.666-second run at 318.39 mph.
In round two, Dixon paired against Darrell Russell. Although Dixon has a strong career record against Russell (12-3), it was Russell who knocked off Dixon in the semifinals last year at this race. Russell drove 207.15 mph with an elapsed time of 5.466, but Dixon in the Miller Lite/Mac Tools dragster drove a 4.778 E.T. at 309.98 mph and advanced onto the semifinals taking on Tony Schumacher.
The Miller Lite dragster previously held a career record of 17-11 against the Army car, but would improve upon that by defeating Schumacher with a lap of 314.75 mph and time of 4.730 E.T., compared to Schumacher's 5.074 E.T. (249.07 mph). Dixon and the Miller Lite team were headed to a place they'd never been before, the finals at Pacific Raceways.
Dixon's trip to the finals marks his 10th appearance this year, the 57th of his career and fifth match-up this year between the Miller Lite and Mac Tools dragsters. Dixon leads Doug Kalitta with a career record of 5-2 in the finals (L-Sonoma 00, W-Denver 01, W-Dallas 01, W-Vegas 03, L-Englishtown 03, W-Topeka 03, W-Denver). At both Topeka and Denver, Dixon was the No. 1 qualifier, took on Kalitta in the finals and went on to win both races; this weekend Dixon hoped would be no different.
Kalitta had lane choice, opting with the unanimously favorable right hand lane. The only pro-driver to have won in the left lane all day was Darrell Russell. Dixon was undoubtedly aware of the challenge ahead, "For the last four years we've lost lane choice; been put in the left lane and lost."
"When we backed the car out of the trailer I asked LaHaie, What are you looking to run? LaHaie said, "I'm going to try and run a 4.67 or 4.68." I said well, I'll give you everything I can."
Together they did just that. Dixon getting four win lights and LaHaie getting the 4.67 E.T. he had hoped for. Dixon drove to his 32nd career victory by defeating Kalitta's 4.739 E.T. (306.95 mph) with a time of 4.672-seconds at 316.82 mph.
"Seeing that win light come on, it's a good thing I had a chin strap over my helmet, because it kept my chin from hitting the ground," said an exasperated Dixon. "Running that good in that lane is a credit to Dick LaHaie and everyone on the Miller Lite team," continued Dixon. "I still can't believe the car ran a 4.67 in that lane."
"This is probably the most gratifying win that we've had in a long time," said crew chief Dick LaHaie. "Larry had never won here, I had never won here, to go into the final round under such adversity, given our lane situation; everyone kept saying how terrible it was and we only had half a qualifying run in that lane (it spun the tires). So we took that data and said, let's do this here and where it spun the tires, we'll do this and see how it works."
"I think they took us a little lightly and they probably shouldn't have done that," said LaHaie of the Mac Tools team. "They felt as though if they put us in the left lane, we were done. That's one thing about this team, it's never over till the fat lady sings."
He concluded, "As many years as I've done this, this being my 45th year in the sport, for me to still get excited, it's gotta be fun."
Dixon continues to lead the NHRA point's race at 1345. The Miller Lite team hopes to make a western swing sweep on the last stop in Sonoma, CA., for the FRAM-Autolife NHRA Nationals, August 1-3rd, at Infineon Raceway.