Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon is one of the most decorated drivers in the history of the Top Fuel category, if not the sport of drag racing. In just nine seasons, the Indianapolis resident has garnered two series titles, 33 victories and a rookie of the year award among his many achievements. However, all athletes from baseball?s greatest hitter to the sweet science?s most skillful puncher experience pitfalls that make the most common of fans wonder what the problem is? The veteran Top Fuel pilot is nearly one-third of the way through his 10th season behind the wheel of his Miller-backed dragster and Dixon is well aware that the sport of drag racing can be as humbling as playing golf. Dixon looks to turn around his 2004 season when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes the first of two stops near Chicago for the seventh annual Route 66 Nationals, May 20-23, at Route 66 Raceway, one of 18 current NHRA race tracks that has seen Dixon reach the winner?s circle. ?We need to get our car running better,? said Dixon, who will continue to campaign the ?Vote Miller for President of Beers? dragster at Route 66 Raceway. ?When you change as many things on the race car as we?ve changed over the winter and after the first few races, there?s a period where you?re learning how to build horsepower and apply it to the race track, and that?s what we?re going through right now. If we get our car to run better, it will turn our season around. It?s just part of the learning curve with all of this new equipment the we?re using this season.? Despite suffering three first round losses and racing to a 7-7 elimination round record in the first seven events of 2004, Dixon has lost some of the closest races in the Top Fuel category. The three-time Top Fuel Shootout winner has suffered narrow defeats at five of the first seven events of the 2004 season, losing by a matter of feet at all but two races. ?That?s just the way it is,? team owner Don ?the Snake? Prudhomme said. ?You better enjoy the good times when you have them because you?re gonna have more bad times than good. We won championships two years in a row and those were really good times for the team. If you win the title each year, the competition would quit. It?s very, very competitive this year; the toughest it?s been in years. You just have to suck it up and keep going. I have complete faith in Larry (Dixon) and Dick LaHaie and the rest of the team.? Each race brings more runs on the race car and with just a bit of luck, there?s a great possibility you?ll see the ?Vote Miller for President of Beers? dragster in the Route 66 Raceway winner?s circle come Sunday evening on May 23. 2004 NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings 1. Tony Schumacher (4) 613 - - - 2. Brandon Bernstein (2) 547 66 out 3. Doug Kalitta 469 144 out 4. Cory McClenathan (1) 413 200 out 5. David Grubnic 412 201 out 6. Clay Millican 366 247 out 7. Darrell Russell 359 254 out 8. LARRY DIXON 352 261 out 9. Scott Kalitta 334 279 out 10. Doug Herbert 310 303 out Larry Dixon?s Career Results at Route 66 Raceway (spring race) Year Qualified Finish & Winning Driver 1998 No. 4 First round?Paul Romine 1999 No. 4 Second round?Mike Dunn 2000 No. 9 Runner-up?Gary Scelzi 2001 No. 2 Semifinals?Gary Scelzi 2002 No. 6 WINNER?def. Kenny Bernstein 2003 No. 3 Runner-up?Tony Schumacher Larry Dixon?s Joliet Schedule Date & Time Location Thurs., 5-20 6-8 p.m. Buffalo Wild Wings (777 E. Broughton Rd., Bolingbrook, IL 60440, 630-739-2999) Fri., 5-21 5 and 8 p.m. TF qualifying sessions 1 & 2 Sat., 5-22 1 and 4 p.m. TF qualifying sessions 3 & 4 Sun., 5-23 10 a.m. Pre-race ceremonies 11 a.m. Final eliminations NHRA POWERade Series TV Schedule Date & Time (ET) Network Coverage Sat., May 22, 7-9 p.m. (ET) ESPN2 Qualifying Sun., May 23, 11:30 a.m.-noon (ET) ESPN2 NHRA 2day Sun., May 23, 7-10 p.m. (ET) ESPN2 Eliminations
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