DIXON DRIVES MILLER LITE DRAGSTER TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA TOPEKA, Kan. (May 29, 2005) -- Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion (2002-03) Larry Dixon used a consistent tune-up to race his Miller Lite dragster to a runner-up ...
DIXON DRIVES MILLER LITE DRAGSTER TO RUNNER-UP FINISH AT HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 29, 2005) -- Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion (2002-03) Larry Dixon used a consistent tune-up to race his Miller Lite dragster to a runner-up performance Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka.
Dixon, who set a Heartland Park track speed record at 331.61-mph during qualifying, knocked off David Baca, two-time series champion (1994-95) Scott Kalitta and rising star Morgan Lucas before falling to Australian native David Grubnic in the final round.
"I thought we had a really good car," Dixon said. "It was phenomenal on race day until the final round. In the final, we had a clutch error that caused us to instantly smoke the tires. We still have a great car. If we can fix that, we should be a better car."
Dixon used the third quickest elapsed time of the opening round of eliminations to defeat No. 14 qualifier Baca. The Dick LaHaie-tuned Miller Lite/Ameriquest car powered to a pass of 4.555 seconds at 328.54 mph, while Baca's rail lost traction early in the run.
The Miller Lite dragster posted the quickest elapsed time of the second round of racing when the 36-time NHRA winner blasted to a run of 4.569 at 326.56 to earn the trip to the semifinals. S. Kalitta's Mac Tools-backed dragster hazed the tires and slowed to a 4.945-second E.T.
Dixon again clocked the quickest E.T. of the round when he bested second-year racer Lucas in the semifinals. This time, the Miller Lite/Lucas Oil rail stopped the Heartland Park timers in 4.546 at 328.46. Lucas' dragster overpowered the race track on the semifinal pass.
In his third final-round appearance of the season and 66th of his career, Dixon's car lost traction early in the run, allowing Grubnic to cruise to a pass of 4.600 at 320.28 to score his first career NHRA Top Fuel victory after posting seven runner-up finishes, including five last season.
"Everything was fine until Larry (Dixon) hit the gas pedal," LaHaie joked. "We gave him a perfectly good race car. Seriously, we had a clutch malfunction on that run. It's pretty rare. It happened in the second round at Pomona earlier this year.
"It appears that we have a decent hot-weather tune-up. I'm pleased with the adjustments that we made and I'm very happy with the way the car ran this weekend."
"If we can maintain the type of performance that we've been able to put up at the past few events, we should be in the thick of things come the end of the year," Dixon added. "If you have a good running car, the points will work themselves out."
Dixon's runner-up finish moved the veteran racer to third place in the Top Fuel standings. He trails points leader Doug Kalitta by 129 points or six rounds of competition. The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the Eighth annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals, June 9-12, at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. Dixon won the spring Chicago event in 2002.