COMMERCE, Ga. - Larry Dixon is proving to be nearly unbeatable. The
driver of the Miller Lite Dragster scored his fifth Top Fuel victory of
the season Sunday at the 22nd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern
Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Whit Bazemore, Allen Johnson and Angelle Savoie also won their
respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the seventh of 23 events
in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Dixon has been to the final round in all but one race this season and
has yet to relinquish the points lead. Dixon turned in a 4.637-second run
at 318.09 to beat Doug Herbert, who went 5.039 at 231.87 in the Snap-On
"You dream about a season like this," Dixon said. "But
you never imagine it really happening. The most wins I've ever had in a
season was six last year, and we already have five with 16 events left on
"I have been racing for a while and even when I was working for
Snake (team owner Don Prudhomme) we never had a package of races this
The weather conditions played right into the hands of Dixon's crew
chief, Dick LaHaie, who is known for creating the perfect setup for warm
conditions. After two days of qualifying was juggled because of rain
delays, the clouds parted after the first round of eliminations, causing
the track to heat up.
"The conditions definitely changed and that certainly helped us
out," Dixon said. "We had a lot of trouble this weekend, a lot
of breakage on the car in the cooler conditions. Come race day, we
fortunately had our act together."
Dixon's victory only padded his lead in the point standings. Second
place Kenny Bernstein lost to Dixon in the semifinal round when Dixon ran
a 4.639 at 317.72 to knock out Bernstein's Budweiser King Dragster's time
of 5.206 at 202.42.
"Last year Kenny Bernstein had a really good season and pushed us
to make our team better," Dixon said. "We had a great season
last year but didn't win the championship. Nobody has scored 2,000 points
and not won the championship in the history of the NHRA. Bernstein really
beat us up. Now we are winning those close rounds. Today we couldn't let
Bazemore scored his second consecutive win of the Funny Car season,
taking out points leader John Force in the final. Bazemore went 4.963 at
310.41 in his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird to beat Force and his run of
5.559 at 195.51 in Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. An Atlanta native, Bazemore
has been waiting to win at his home track.
"To win here in Atlanta is a dream come true," Bazemore said.
"This is where I watched drag racing for the first time. I wanted to
be a Funny Car driver before I even saw it in person. When I did, it
scared me, but I still wanted to do it. I dreamed about racing here and
In 1999, however, that dream was halted by Force - something Bazemore
wanted to avoid repeating.
"We lost to Force in the final round that year," Bazemore
said. "That was the most frustrating loss of my career, and I have
had a lot of losses. To get that right (by beating Force on Sunday) means
a lot to me. Nothing is better than racing him in the final here."
Bazemore finished the 2001 season on a hot streak. He claimed nine No.
1 qualifying positions in the last 12 races. He grabbed three wins and
four runner-up finishes during that span. That momentum did not carry over
into the 2002 season as Bazemore lost in the first round in three of the
first four events.
"We just had to learn how to run on that new tire," Bazemore
said. "That has been quite a difference and the biggest (challenge)
for us. Today it ended up getting hot and it was the first time our setup
has been tested in the heat since we figured out how to get the car going.
"It's not going to be cool and cloudy much longer. If we had
struggled today, we would have even more work ahead of us."
With the win, Bazemore slid into third place in the standings, less
than 15 points away from second place Gary Densham. He is less than 100
points out of first place.
"I have never had back-to-back wins and I have never won this
early in the season," Bazemore said. "This is really cool.
Winning is difficult. Winning a round is tough. People like Larry Dixon
make it look easy. Our guys are exhausted and I am mentally exhausted. All
the emotions out there can be overwhelming."
Johnson beat Greg Anderson to earn his second career victory in Pro
Stock. Johnson made a 6.907 pass at 200.92 in a Dodge Neon R/T to beat
Greg Anderson's 7.676 at 138.41 in a Chevy Cavalier.
Johnson has not been in the winner's circle since the Richmond event in
1999. He is the seventh different driver to win a Pro Stock race this
"We've had the horsepower since the Las Vegas event," Johnson
said. "We just haven't had any luck. That car has given us fits. I am
the seventh different winner in this category and that tells you just how
tough the class is. If you stump your toe out here, you go home."
Johnson is coming off a race he would rather forget. Johnson did not
qualify for last week's race in Bristol, Tenn.
"We tested on Tuesday after Bristol and that was the difference in
the car," Johnson said. "Our program really turned around there.
Even though we didn't qualify, everyone in the pits knew that we were on
the verge. We come here and we qualify No. 3, which I have only done one
other time. We were one of the top five cars all weekend and that is what
you need to win in this class."
Savoie earned her first victory of the season and 23rd of her career,
beating Matt Hines in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final. Savoie turned in a
7.162 at 187.91 on her CVEC Suzuki to beat Hines' 7.181 at 188.25 on his
Eagle One Suzuki.
Just before qualifying began on Friday, Savoie announced her new
primary sponsor. She had been running without a sponsor in the first two
events of the season.
"At the beginning of the year, this was going to be my last race
if we couldn't find a sponsor," Savoie said. "(CVEC) came to the
Gatornationals and they wanted to get involved. I didn't want to go back
to nursing. I was not ready to quit racing. If it weren't for CVEC, I
would be saying goodbye to everyone today."
Instead, Savoie walked away from Atlanta Dragway with an event trophy
as well as the points lead. This is the third victory in four years at
Atlanta Dragway for Savoie. She also has the track elapsed time record
with her 7.113 pass during the first round of eliminations.
"Now I have the No. 1 spot and I know what it is like to be the
POWERade points leader," Savoie said. "After 23 (victories) the
feeling never lightens up. It feels like my first win every time."
The next NHRA national event is the Matco Tools SuperNationals at Old
Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., May 16-19.
COMMERCE, Ga. -- Final finish order (1-16) for professional categories
at the 22nd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals
presented by Pontiac at Atlanta Dragway. The $1.9 million race is the
seventh of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
1. Larry Dixon; 2. Doug Herbert; 3. Kenny Bernstein; 4. Don Sosenka; 5.
Doug Kalitta; 6. Cory McClenathan; 7. John Smith; 8. Scott Weis; 9. Andrew
Cowin; 10. Tony Schumacher; 11. Chris Karamesines; 12. Bobby Lagana Jr;
13. Darrell Russell; 14. David Grubnic; 15. Luigi Novelli; 16. Rhonda
1. Whit Bazemore, Pontiac Firebird; 2. John Force, Ford Mustang; 3.
Frank Pedregon, Firebird; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Firebird; 5. Cruz Pedregon,
Firebird; 6. Tony Pedregon, Mustang; 7. Gary Densham, Mustang; 8. Todd
Paton, Chevy Camaro; 9. Scotty Cannon, Firebird; 10. Del Worsham,
Firebird; 11. Bob Bode, Dodge Avenger; 12. Bob Gilbertson, Firebird; 13.
Dean Skuza, Dodge Stratus R/T; 14. Ron Capps, Camaro; 15. Dale Creasy Jr.,
Firebird; 16. Johnny Gray, Firebird.
1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Neon R/T; 2. Greg Anderson, Chevy Cavalier; 3.
Jim Yates, Pontiac Grand Am; 4. Darrell Alderman, Neon R/T; 5. Kurt
Johnson, Cavalier; 6. Warren Johnson, Grand Am; 7. Gene Wilson, Neon R/T;
8. Jeg Coughlin, Cavalier; 9. Mark Osborne, Grand Am; 10. Troy Coughlin,
Cavalier; 11. Mark Pawuk, Grand Am; 12. Bruce Allen, Grand Am; 13. Tom
Lee, Neon R/T; 14. V. Gaines, Cavalier; 15. Ron Krisher, Cavalier; 16.
Mark Whisnant, Cavalier.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
1. Angelle Savoie, Suzuki; 2. Matt Hines, Suzuki; 3. Shawn Gann,
Suzuki; 4. John Smith, Suzuki; 5. Antron Brown, Suzuki; 6. Craig Treble,
Suzuki; 7. Mike Berry, Suzuki; 8. Reggie Showers, Suzuki; 9. Geno Scali,
Kawasaki; 10. Thomas Miceli, Suzuki; 11. Steve Johnson, Suzuki; 12.
Michael Phillips, Suzuki; 13. Tommy Grimes Jr, Suzuki; 14. Joe DeSantis,
Suzuki; 15. Terry Kizer, Suzuki; 16. Sam Hurwitz, Suzuki.
COMMERCE, Ga. -- Sunday's final results from the 22nd annual Summit
Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac at Atlanta
Dragway. The $1.9 million race is the seventh of 23 events in the $50
million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Top Fuel -- Larry Dixon, 4.637 seconds, 318.09 mph def. Doug Herbert,
5.039 seconds, 231.87 mph.
Funny Car -- Whit Bazemore, Pontiac Firebird, 4.963, 310.41 def. John
Force, Ford Mustang, 5.559, 195.51.
Pro Stock -- Allen Johnson, Dodge Neon R/T, 6.907, 200.92 def. Greg
Anderson, Chevy Cavalier, 7.676, 138.41.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Angelle Savoie, Suzuki, 7.162, 187.91 def. Matt
Hines, Suzuki, 7.181, 188.25.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Michael Gunderson, 5.415, 259.61 def. Cliff
Bozzelli, 5.474, 259.11.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Jay Payne, Chevy Camaro, 5.704, 253.47 def.
Bob Newberry, Camaro, 5.739, 250.04.
COMMERCE, Ga. -- Final round-by-round results from the 22nd annual
Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac at
Atlanta Dragway, the seventh of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade
Drag Racing Series:
ROUND ONE -- Scott Weis, 10.445, 81.89 def. Rhonda Hartman-Smith,
broke; John Smith, 5.024, 273.00 def. David Grubnic, 10.653, 72.50; Doug
Herbert, 4.622, 318.62 def. Andrew Cowin, 4.757, 281.07; Larry Dixon,
4.686, 306.40 def. Luigi Novelli, 11.056, 81.15; Doug Kalitta, 4.589,
322.19 def. Bobby Lagana Jr, 9.480, 98.28; Cory McClenathan, 4.585, 322.73
def. Darrell Russell, 9.840, 91.24; Don Sosenka, 5.384, 222.84 def. Tony
Schumacher, 5.882, 219.22; Kenny Bernstein, 4.626, 318.92 def. Chris
Karamesines, 7.543, 114.32;
QUARTERFINALS -- Sosenka, 5.508, 215.10 def. Smith, 7.283, 122.13;
Bernstein, 4.618, 323.19 def. Weis, 7.413, 114.29; Herbert, 4.710, 302.89
def. McClenathan, 4.974, 241.54; Dixon, 4.586, 321.81 def. Kalitta, 4.606,
SEMIFINALS -- Herbert, 5.021, 282.84 def. Sosenka, 5.622, 217.04;
Dixon, 4.639, 317.72 def. Bernstein, 5.206, 202.42;
FINAL -- Dixon, 4.637, 318.09 def. Herbert, 5.039, 231.87.
ROUND ONE -- Tim Wilkerson, Pontiac Firebird, 4.896, 300.40 def. Bob
Bode, Dodge Avenger, 6.268, 245.85; Gary Densham, Ford Mustang, 4.821,
312.35 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Firebird, 8.796, 93.10; Whit Bazemore,
Firebird, 4.856, 314.68 def. Del Worsham, Firebird, 4.948, 316.60; Tony
Pedregon, Mustang, 4.852, 325.69 def. Bob Gilbertson, Firebird, 7.791,
102.77; Todd Paton, Chevy Camaro, 5.052, 281.95 def. Ron Capps, Camaro,
8.299, 106.97; Cruz Pedregon, Firebird, 4.871, 302.69 def. Scotty Cannon,
Firebird, 4.887, 317.64; Frank Pedregon, Firebird, 4.916, 310.41 def. Dean
Skuza, Dodge Stratus R/T, 7.892, 84.75; John Force, Mustang, 4.884, 317.42
def. Johnny Gray, Firebird, 9.656, 105.95;
QUARTERFINALS -- Wilkerson, 16.826, 75.99 def. Paton, foul; Bazemore,
4.887, 316.52 def. C. Pedregon, 4.920, 244.07; Force, 5.249, 242.58 def.
Densham, 5.241, 215.82; F. Pedregon, 4.997, 305.91 def. T. Pedregon,
SEMIFINALS -- Force, 4.985, 307.51 def. Wilkerson, 5.175, 259.21;
Bazemore, 4.968, 310.41 def. F. Pedregon, 5.079, 293.79;
FINAL -- Bazemore, 4.963, 310.41 def. Force, 5.559, 195.51.
ROUND ONE -- Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cavalier, 6.863, 199.91 def. Mark
Osborne, Pontiac Grand Am, foul; Darrell Alderman, Dodge Neon R/T, 6.884,
201.34 def. Ron Krisher, Cavalier, 7.021, 199.91; Kurt Johnson, Cavalier,
6.856, 200.89 def. Mark Whisnant, Cavalier, 7.352, 149.17; Gene Wilson,
Neon R/T, 6.869, 199.82 def. V. Gaines, Cavalier, 6.951, 196.99; Jim
Yates, Grand Am, 6.862, 200.77 def. Troy Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.865,
200.11; Warren Johnson, Grand Am, 6.811, 202.61 def. Mark Pawuk, Grand Am,
6.873, 200.74; Allen Johnson, Neon R/T, 6.866, 200.80 def. Tom Lee, Neon
R/T, 6.910, 199.26; Greg Anderson, Cavalier, 6.831, 201.67 def. Bruce
Allen, Grand Am, 6.897, 200.02;
QUARTERFINALS -- Jim Yates, 6.901, 199.82 def. Wilson, 6.884, 200.50;
A. Johnson, 6.891, 200.44 def. K. Johnson, 6.877, 200.83; Anderson, 6.844,
201.43 def. J. Coughlin, foul; Alderman, 6.888, 200.53 def. W. Johnson,
SEMIFINALS -- A. Johnson, 6.899, 200.02 def. Alderman, 6.913, 200.29;
Anderson, 6.861, 201.13 def. Jim. Yates, 6.893, 200.05;
FINAL -- A. Johnson, 6.907, 200.92 def. Anderson, 7.676, 138.41.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE -- Mike Berry, Suzuki, 7.371, 181.79 def. Terry Kizer,
Suzuki, foul; Reggie Showers, Suzuki, 7.266, 183.97 def. Steve Johnson,
Suzuki, 7.311, 180.38; Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.192, 181.57 def. Michael
Phillips, Suzuki, 7.326, 180.33; Angelle Savoie, Suzuki, 7.113, 186.87
def. Tommy Grimes Jr, Suzuki, 7.366, 183.22; Matt Hines, Suzuki, 7.204,
187.31 def. Thomas Miceli, Suzuki, 7.297, 181.32; Antron Brown, Suzuki,
7.165, 186.48 def. Geno Scali, Kawasaki, foul; John Smith, Suzuki, 7.275,
183.34 def. Sam Hurwitz, Suzuki, foul; Shawn Gann, Suzuki, 7.143, 188.67
def. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 7.370, 178.61;
QUARTERFINALS -- Hines, 7.173, 186.82 def. Showers, 7.322, 185.51;
Smith, 7.272, 184.37 def. Brown, 7.194, 185.74; Gann, 7.176, 182.87 def.
Treble, 7.284, 168.14; Savoie, 7.164, 185.26 def. Berry, 7.291, 184.14;
SEMIFINALS -- Hines, 7.174, 182.16 def. Smith, 7.313, 181.94; Savoie,
7.156, 185.33 def. Gann, 7.207, 186.23;
FINAL -- Savoie, 7.162, 187.91 def. Hines, 7.181, 188.25.
COMMERCE, Ga. -- Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional
categories following the 22nd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern
Nationals presented by Pontiac at Atlanta Dragway, the seventh of 23
events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series:
1. Larry Dixon, 718; 2. Kenny Bernstein, 556; 3. Cory McClenathan, 486;
4. Tony Schumacher, 444; 5. Doug Kalitta, 383; 6. David Grubnic, 349; 7.
Doug Herbert, 309; 8. Darrell Russell, 304; 9. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 269;
10. John Smith, 258.
1. John Force, 552; 2. Gary Densham, 471; 3. Whit Bazemore, 459; 4. Del
Worsham, 424; 5. Tony Pedregon, 407; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 382; 7. Ron
Capps, 354; 8. Scotty Cannon, 335; 9. Gary Scelzi, 301; 10. Johnny Gray,
1. Warren Johnson, 519; 2. Jim Yates, 472; 3. Darrell Alderman, 423; 4.
Ron Krisher, 414; 5. George Marnell, 392; 6. Mike Edwards, 385; 7. Kurt
Johnson, 366; 8. (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 326; Bruce Allen, 326; 10. Greg
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Angelle Savoie, 292; 2. Craig Treble, 283; 3. Matt Hines, 210; 4.
Shawn Gann, 209; 5. Antron Brown, 166; 6. Mike Berry, 159; 7. (tie) Steve
Johnson, 157; Geno Scali, 157; Reggie Showers, 157; 10. John Smith, 116.