Larry Dixon continued his incredible season in Top Fuel and is a perfect 11 for 11 in final rounds as he won the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway on Sunday. Also taking home wins at the event in their respective categories were Cruz Pedregon, Greg Anderson and LE Tonglet.
Dixon faced Doug Kalitta's Rocky Boots Dragster in the finals and, as he has done 11 times this season, he was able to get the win light and take the victory. Dixon and his Al-Anabi Racing dragster ran 3.858 at 316.60mph to a losing pass of 3.901 at 309.20mph by Kalitta. Dixon also extends his lead in the points by 85 over second-place racer Cory McClenathan. This is also the third consecutive win for Dixon.
“I can't believe the amount of wins we've had and the amount of finals we've been in without losing,” said Dixon. “It's hard to imagine when you think about all the great cars that are out here. It's a credit to the team. They are an unbelievable bunch of guys. As a fan of this sport, I realize how hard it is.”
The day wasn't without trouble for the team when Dixon smoked the tires early in the second round and pedaled the car when he was facing defending Top Fuel series champion, Tony Schumacher.
“I guess we win ‘em every different way. The race against Tony [Schumacher] was amazing. There is a period of about two-tenths of a second when I was off the throttle and it was quiet that I could tell it was quiet in the other lane, too. I had a 50-percent chance of hitting it right. Tony is still wearing No. 1, and he'll continue to do so until someone takes it away from him.”
Pedregon and his Snap-On Tools Toyota Camry was the class of the Funny Car field all weekend long and was able to use his No. 1 qualifying position to his advantage and secured the win over Jack Beckman in his Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger Funny Car. In the finals, Pedregon posted a winning run of 4.171sec at 299.13mph to a trailing 4.212sec at 301.81 of Beckman. This was the first win by Pedregon since his victory at the last race of the season in Pomona in 2008 and today was his birthday as well.
"I've had some great cars in my career when I drove for guys like Larry Minor and Joe Gibbs, but I don't think I've been in a better car than I had this weekend,” said an emotional Pedregon. “I can't say enough about the team. Me and [crew chief] Danny DeGennaro, who's a young guy in his 30s, were both kind of on the sidelines this off-season. We worked real hard to get to this point. It took us awhile to get going, and there were times when I thought, ‘What the heck are we doing this for?' but we stayed at it.
“Our philosophy is to look at these races like we're in the Countdown. I've been a champion twice before, and I need to act like a champion. Even though some people were surprised by us, we're not coming into races thinking we're underdogs. We had a great weekend. I'm afraid to change the oil on it before Dallas.”
Hometown Pro Stock racer Anderson used the support of friends, family and horsepower of his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to get his third win of the season as he bested the Nitro Fish Apparel Pontiac GXP driver by Greg Stanfield in the finals. Anderson recorded a time of 6.604sec at 209.30mph to the losing 6.651 at 207.91mph. With the win, Anderson moves to second in the Pro Stock category.
“This is not how we planned it, to have all three Summit cars on one side of the ladder but that's how it fell. When you have three great cars on one side, you have a good shot to get one into the final. We made a couple mistakes on the other two cars and I feel bad for Jason and Ronnie. Otherwise, we could have done more,” stated Anderson. “Today I had the best hot rod on the grounds, by far. I'm a lucky man. This is my home track, and I have struggled here but zMax Dragway is now officially my favorite track. Heck, I didn't even know where the press room was until this weekend but now I want to race here 10 times a year.
“In the final, I made one of the most perfect runs I've ever made. It was so smooth. I thought, if I lose this race on a holeshot I'll never be able to live with myself. Apparently I put too much pressure on myself. Sometimes you can press too hard and make mistakes. I had to treat this like another event and it all went smooth."
In a rematch from the Mac Tools U. S. Nationals, Tonglet and his Nitro Fish Apparel Suzuki faced Andrew Hines on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson in the finals for the second consecutive race. Tonglet posted a run of 6.921sec at 192.82mph to the losing run of Hines 6.972 at 189.63. With the win, Tonglet moves into the Pro Stock Motorcycle points lead by 66 points over Hines.
“We're not even thinking about the Rookie of the Year anymore. We've got a bigger thing; the championship, on our minds. With Nitro Fish behind us, we have a good shot. Hopefully, we just keep going rounds and we can run this good in Dallas,” said Tonglet. “I'm happy to be in the final again. We said we just wanted to get to the semi's. Anything after that is a bonus. After the semi's, I was on the return road and GT said we're going to tune it up. We had been spinning the tire. We leaned it out a little more and it picked up a lot for the final. I'm still trying to believe that this is all happening. I owe it all to Kenny [Koretsky]. Without him, we wouldn't be here."
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season continues on Sept. 23-26 during the O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at the Texas Motorplex.