NHRA POWERade 2002 defending champion Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite dragster are returning to Joliet, IL for the third annual CARQUEST Nationals at Route 66 Raceway (Sept.26-28th). Dixon enters the third annual CARQUEST Nationals at the Route 66 Raceway knowing he has a slight advantage in his corner?.Over the years, the Don Prudhomme Miller Lite dragster has gone the rounds and proven itself successful time and time again. It shouldn?t be any different on the legendary Route 66 Raceway where Dixon and the dragster crossed the line with the winning time a year ago this weekend. As mentioned, Dixon has been successful at Chicagoland in the past and hopes to continue that trend this weekend. And more recently, at the NHRA POWERade 2003 racing tour stop earlier this year in Chicago, Dixon posted a runner up finish to Tony Schumacher at the Lucas Oil Nationals. Currently with 1,688 points Dixon has lead the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel points category since May 4, 2003, a total of 21 weeks. Dick LaHaie, veteran tuner of the Miller Lite Top Fuel dragster knows that in order to be contender for the NHRA POWERade Championship title, a car must be consistent. LaHaie knows first hand the importance of four rounds on Sunday. During the final race of the 1987 tour, driver Dick LaHaie seized the lead away from Joe Amato who was point leader for the majority of the year. More importantly LaHaie captured the 1987 NHRA Top Fuel championship title. The end of the 2003 NHRA racing tour looks close on paper but in reality, is still quite a distance away?A handful of rain delays and race postponements have stalled races and also, championship hopes. A long weekend spent in Memphis Tennessee at the 16th annual O?Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals carried over to Monday due to rain. The light at the end of the tunnel seems extremely dim at the moment. ?It been a long road for the guys,? said Dixon. Pointing out the countless hours on the road spent returning from Sonoma and their sweep of the Western Swing. If you think the team took a few days off to relax and regroup, you?d be wrong. ?The week before Indy we tested and the week before that we were in Brainerd, it?s been a long time on the road for the guys.? And could possibly be longer if Mother Nature intervenes again. After the race in Chicago this weekend, the re-scheduled race in Reading the following weekend, the Miller Lite team may only have one weekend to prepare for the final three races of the tour, but that?s a strong maybe. ?If we have a weekend off after Dallas?if. Again, there are no guarantees,? said Dixon. Qualifying for the third annual CARQUEST Nationals starts on Friday, Sept. 27 with sessions at 4:00 and 7:00 PM ET. Saturday continues with a second round of qualifying with sessions beginning at 1:00 and 4:00 PM ET. Final elimination rounds begin on Sunday, Sept. 29th with an 11:00 AM ET start. 2003 NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings 1. LARRY DIXON 1688 ---- 2. Doug Kalitta 1402 266 out 3. Darrell Russell 1099 569 out 4. Tony Schumacher 1098 570 out 5. Cory McClenathan 887 781 out 6. David Baca 881 787 out 7. John Smith 801 867 out 8. Doug Herbert 777 895 out 9. R. Hartman-Smith 713 955 out 10. Brandon Bernstein 629 1039 out Larry Dixon's Career Results in Joliet Year Event Qual. Finish & Opposing Driver 1998 Fram Route 66 Nationals No.4 First round/Romine 1999 Fram Route 66 Nationals No.4 Second round/Dunn 2000 Fram Route 66 Nationals No.9 Runner up/Scelzi 2001 NHRA Fall Nationals No.3 Semifinals/Kenny Bernstein 2002 Craftsman 75th Anniversary Natls. No.2 Quarterfinals/Cory McClenathan 2002 Chicagoland Dodge Nationals No.6 WINNER/Kenny Bernstein 2003 Lucas Oil Nationals No.3 Runner up/Tony Schumacher Larry Dixon?s Chicago Schedule Date Time Location Thurs, Sept.25th 7:00-9:00 Leo?s Restaurant 201 East Romeo Rd., Romeoville, IL # (815) 886-5600 Fri, Sept. 26th 4:00/ 7:00 PM TF qualifying session 1 & 2 Sat, Sept. 27th 1:00/ 4:00 PM TF qualifying session 3 & 4 Sun, Sept. 28th 10:00 AM Pre-race ceremonies 11:00 AM Eliminations begin NHRA on Television This Week Date & Time (ET) Network Coverage Sun. Sept. 28th 1:30-3:30 AM ESPN2 Early Qualifying Sun. Sept. 28th 8:00-10:30 PM ESPN2 Eliminations Thurs. Oct.2nd 3:00-5:00 AM ESPN2 Repeat Eliminations
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