Larry Dixon preview
Larry Dixon won the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel championship in his second season in the Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel dragster. Last year's championship was the third of Dixon's career and the 13th NHRA national championship for team manager Alan Johnson.
Dixon is the defending champion of the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals and the only Top Fuel driver to win the Winternationals in consecutive years having accomplished that in 2002 and '03. He has won five races at Auto Club Raceway: 2010, '08, '03, '02 and 1998. All of those wins came in the season-opening race except his 2008 victory in the NHRA Finals.
Dixon enters the 2011 season just one round win away from joining John Force, Kenny Bernstein and Warren Johnson as the only Full Throttle Series drivers to win 600 rounds. Dixon is fourth on the NHRA's career round wins list with 599 round wins. Dixon won 60 rounds last season which is his career best. Only two drivers have won more rounds in a season: Tony Schumacher won 76 rounds in 2008, and Kenny Bernstein won 61 rounds in 2001.
Dixon won 12 races last season, more than any other year in his career. He is the first professional driver in NHRA history to win 12 races in 12 final rounds in a season. His 12-win total was also more than any other driver in the four NHRA Full Throttle classes this year. His 12 wins happened at Pomona, Calif., Baytown, Texas, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Joliet, Ill., Englishtown, N.J., Norwalk, Ohio, Sonoma, Calif., Brainerd, Minn., Indianapolis, Charlotte and Reading, Pa.
Dixon won seven of the eight races in which he was the No. 1 qualifier making him 29-1 in eliminations when competing as the No. 1 qualifier last season.
Dixon advanced to at least the semifinals in 17 of the 23 events last year.
Dixon was an excellent qualifier last season qualifying in the top three at 19 of the 23 races. Dixon's average qualifying position was 2.55. He was the No. 1 qualifier eight times last season and 48 times in his career placing him ninth on the NHRA's all-time No. 1 qualifiers list for all classes; Don Prudhomme is in eighth place with 52 No. 1s.
Dixon leads NHRA's all-time Top Fuel final-round appearances list with 104 final rounds. Tony Schumacher is second with 103 final-round appearances.
Dixon won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 2002, '03 and '10. He is second on the NHRA's all-time Top Fuel winner's list with 60 victories; Tony Schumacher tops the list with 67 wins. Dixon is seventh on the NHRA's all-time career victories list for all professional categories; Greg Anderson is in sixth place with 65 wins. Dixon was the 1995 NHRA Rookie of the Year.
Dixon prior to Pomona:
"Having the No. 1 on our wing this year is a proud accomplishment, but it's not something I'm looking back on. I'm looking forward; forward to making that first run down the track and forward getting our Al-Anabi car qualified for the Winternationals. It's kind of a vanilla approach, but what happened last year is in the past, and we are looking forward into 2011 and not so much reminiscing on what happened last year. It's a new year; nobody has any points and we're ready to start working on that.
"I'm glad NHRA decided to celebrate their 60th anniversary because there are so many great stories in our history. I would like to think that there were a lot of people who are considered NHRA legends in our sport that have influenced me, and I've tried to learn as much as I could from all of them. For starters, my Dad (Larry Dixon, Sr.), (Don) Garlits, Shirley (Muldowney), obviously Snake, but the one guy that probably influenced me the most was Roland Leong. When I was crewing, he was the guy who gave me guidance and advice about turning my crewing career into a driving career. If he hadn't kicked me in the rear end, I may not have moved forward.
"The Winternationals is one of the races that we consider a "major." Growing up in the sport, the trophies from those "majors" shine a little brighter and mean a little more. It would be great to win it again this year, but winning the Winternationals on consecutive years is hard to do because so much is new. Teams have new set ups in the cars, some crew members can change or switch places, so sometimes a team can still be working out some bugs at the first race. We had such a good test in West Palm last month that I don't think that will be a problem for us, but it's still hard to win any race in consecutive years, especially the first one.
"I'm looking forward to having my teammate in the same class this year, and it's interesting how history kind of has a way of repeating itself. When I got my Top Fuel license at Gainesville in 1994, Del signed it for me. Here we are in 2011 and I'm signing Del's Top Fuel license after our test at West Palm Beach last month. I thought it was very cool that I was able to do that. I guess it's just kind of a neat trivia question, but it's still cool.
"I'd like to have a camera the first time Del and I stage up together to see where Alan (Al-Anabi Racing team manager Alan Johnson) is standing. I wonder which car he'll watch because he can't watch both. Or can he? Maybe he'll stand somewhere in the middle so he can see both of us. Maybe he's been practicing over the winter to train his eyes to watch two targets at the same time. He IS pretty good."
-source: al-anabi racing team