Topeka: Final qualifying summary

Dixon, Sarver and Yates take the top spots at O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals. TOPEKA, Kan. - Larry Dixon earned his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 18th of his career Saturday during the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at ...

Dixon, Sarver and Yates take the top spots at O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Larry Dixon earned his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 18th of his career Saturday during the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.

Bruce Sarver and Jim Yates also were the leaders of their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the ninth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Dixon drove his Miller Lite dragster to a 4.588-second run at 320.81 mph to lead the Top Fuel category. Dixon has been a menace to the rest of the Top Fuel category, as he has already claimed five event victories this season.

Getting in the 16-car field was a little different this weekend as inclement weather disrupted the Friday qualifying. The Pro Stock category made one full pass on Friday and Funny Car was mid-way through the session before rain poured on the track. The Top Fuel category had only two chances to qualify for Sunday's elimination round because of the rainstorm. Normally each team has four chances to qualify.

"It was real hard because we only had two runs," Dixon said. "We had to set it up on the soft side on the first run just to make sure we qualified. We still had a good run then. That allowed us to try and go for a good number on that second session. We had some great calls made by (crew chief) Dick LaHaie."

While Dixon has held the points lead since the first race of the season, he knows the car has not performed as well lately as the team would like.

"The past races we have not been consistently the best car in the field," Dixon said. "The first run (in Saturday's) qualifying meant more to me than the second run just because we qualified for the race because of that time. With a points race going on, you can't afford to sit out on Sundays."

Sarver led the Funny Car category with a 4.862 pass at 304.39 in his White Capp Toyota Celica. It is Sarver's first No. 1 qualifying spot of the season and fourth of his career.

Sarver has been behind the wheel of the new Toyota entry for just two events. He qualified in the No. 10 spot at Englishtown, N.J., last weekend and earned a runner-up finish after he lost to Gary Densham in the final round.

"This race car is starting to come around," Sarver said. "(Crew chief) Alan Johnson is getting the tune-up closer and closer to the finish line. I've yet to make it under full power to the finish line, so we have some room to work with.

"Our team is real excited, I am very excited and everyone at Toyota is pleased with what we are doing." Yates snagged his second straight top qualifying spot and the 24th of his career when he drove his SplitFire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am to a pass of 6.853 at 200.20 to lead the Pro Stock category.

"The track got about 20 degrees hotter in the second session and we had to really adapt to that," Yates said. "There were a lot of big numbers out there, we just happened to be the quickest one out there today."

The last Pro Stock qualifier was Ron Krisher with a time of 6.878 at 201.73 in his Eagle One Chevy Cavalier - not too far behind the No. 1 qualifying numbers.

"I don't know if that is the best or worst thing I have ever seen," Yates said. "Because as a fan, that is exciting to see such close racing. As a driver, it means anyone can win this race. It is going to be up to the driver to not make any mistakes and to win the race."

Final eliminations begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Larry Dixon , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Dick LaHaie