Defending NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon posted a runner-up finish in Don Prudhomme's Miller Lite Dragster at the Sixth Annual Lucas Oil Nationals in Joliet, IL Sunday while remaining the NHRA Top Fuel points leader at 937. The first round of Sunday eliminations paired Dixon and the Don Prudhomme Miller Lite dragster against No.14 qualifier Melanie Troxel. Melanie smoked the tires and Dixon's 4.552-second run at 328.86 mph defeated Troxel's effort of 12.359 ET (88.24 mph). In their first meeting of Sunday eliminations this season, Dixon took on No.6 qualifier Rhonda Hartman-Smith in round two. Working his magic once again, crew chief Dick LaHaie made sure the dragster got the win light as Dixon drove a 4.552-second lap (326.32 mph), over Rhonda's 4.643 ET (300.00 mph). In the semifinals the Miller Lite dragster met No.7 qualifier Cory McClenathan. But the Miller Lite dragster proved to be too much for McClenathan time of 4.780 ET (275.22 mph) with a lap of 327.43 mph and a 4.525 ET. The win advanced Dixon to his sixth final round appearance of the 2003 season (W-Pomona, L-Phoenix, W-Las Vegas, W-Atlanta, L-Englishtown, W-Topeka) and 54th of his career (29 wins & 23 losses). The win also marked the first time this year Dixon would meet Tony Schumacher in the final round. Dixon holds a career record against Schumacher in the finals of 3-2 (W-Hou 00, L-Phx 02, L-Indy 02, W-Mphs 02, W-Vegas 02). But Schumacher's lap of 4.530 ET (321.50 mph) would beat Dixon's time of 4.615 ET at 321.42 mph. "Any time you make it to a final round you're disappointed when you lose. In the big scheme of things you gain points, but that only seems to be a good thing if you're able to win the championship. But we're a long ways away, not even halfway through the season," says Dixon. "We ahead to Columbus, learn from our experience this weekend and go race harder and better." Better than being the NHRA points leader or reaching the finals in seven of ten races this season? Better than setting the NHRA speed record at 332.75 mph (Vegas 03) or sitting 4th All-Time with 29 Top Fuel wins, 12th in All-Time Pro wins? Better than qualifying for the last 22 races? "You don't think about any of that stuff. You think about whatever event you're at, try to do well at it, go some rounds, and if you get to a final, you try and win it. If not, then go to the next one." Dixon may find it hard to look on the bright side, the incredible statistics, the 230-point lead, the four straight trips to the finals, but Dixon the Miller Lite team command respect and have earned the recognition. According to Dixon, the next few days will be spent preparing the 2001 Miller Lite dragster as the backup car. Catch the Snake Racing team back in action when the head to Columbus, Ohio for the 39th Annual Pontiac Excitement NHRA Nationals, June 12-15th.
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