Defending POWERade NHRA Champion Larry Dixon drove his Miller Lite dragster to a comfortable points lead (1,783) and a runner up finish at the Route 66 third annual CARQUEST Nationals. In the first round of Sunday eliminations Dixon and the Don Prudhomme owned dragster paired against No 13 Darrell Russell. Russell smoked the tires instantly and Dixon drove for the win. Dixon beat Russell?s time of 11.294 E.T (114.41 mph) but he too lost traction at 200 feet and peddled for the win at 4.959-seconds (309.13 mph). In round two Dixon paired against Rhonda Hartman-Smith. Dixon in the Miller Lite/Mac Tools dragster drove a 5.699 E.T. (193.07 mph), beating Rhonda?s time of 9.237 E.T. at 101.16 mph. The Snake Racing dragster grabbed the win but again, had to peddle for it after smoking the tires midway down the track. In the semifinals Dixon clenched the win against Team Army after yet another peddling match. Schumacher struck the tires resulting in a 10.195 E.T. lap time at 105.33 mph while Dixon regained traction and the win light. The Snake Racing driver would advance to his 60th career final and his 13th this year after posting a 6.050 second win at a speed of 315.78 mph. ?They kept wanting to give it to us,? said crew chief Dick LaHaie, ?So we took it. We with-drew from the luck bank three times today.? In the finals Dixon and the Miller Lite team would take on Kenny Bernstein for the first time this year. One year ago Dixon clenched the win at Route 66 by defeating Bernstein in the finals. The LaHaie lead team was hoping for an identical finish today, granting Dixon nine wins this year. The Miller Lite dragster held a career record of 19-23 against the red car and a 4-5 career record in the finals (W-Rch 00, L-Gville 98, L-Tpka 01, L-Mphs 01, W-Pomona 02, W-Gville 02, L-Etown 02, W-Joliet 02, L-Brainerd-02). Dixon had the better reaction time (0.57/0.73) and the faster speed at the 60-foot mark but would fall short in the end. The Miller Lite Dragster posted a clean run at 4.638-seconds (321.35 mph) to Bernstein?s 4.503 E.T. (328.46 mph). ?We have pushed the clutch combination as far as we possibly could,? said crew chief Dick LaHaie. ?Sometime it runs well and sometimes when we tune it up it slows down. If you look back we?ve run a 4.50 countless times, this should have told us that with our clutch combination we could never push it to run a 4.40. Cold racetracks and cold air makes everyone a tuner, it makes it easy for everyone, everyone but us. We learned some stuff, gained some more points and now have a 323-point lead. There are 16 rounds left and we have a 16 round lead.? The Miller Lite team leads the NHRA point's chase by 323 and hopes to extend their lead at the re-scheduled 19th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway Oct. 3-5th.
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