TOPEKA, Kan. - Larry Dixon earned his sixth No. 1 qualifying position
of the season and 18th of his career Saturday during the
O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
Bruce Sarver and Jim Yates also were the leaders of their respective
categories at the $1.8 million race, the ninth of 23 events in the $50
million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Dixon drove his Miller Lite dragster to a 4.588-second run at 320.81
mph to lead the Top Fuel category. Dixon has been a menace to the rest of
the Top Fuel category, as he has already claimed five event victories this
Getting in the 16-car field was a little different this weekend as
inclement weather disrupted the Friday qualifying. The Pro Stock category
made one full pass on Friday and Funny Car was mid-way through the session
before rain poured on the track. The Top Fuel category had only two
chances to qualify for Sunday's elimination round because of the
rainstorm. Normally each team has four chances to qualify.
"It was real hard because we only had two runs," Dixon said.
"We had to set it up on the soft side on the first run just to make
sure we qualified. We still had a good run then. That allowed us to try
and go for a good number on that second session. We had some great calls
made by (crew chief) Dick LaHaie."
While Dixon has held the points lead since the first race of the
season, he knows the car has not performed as well lately as the team
"The past races we have not been consistently the best car in the
field," Dixon said. "The first run (in Saturday's) qualifying
meant more to me than the second run just because we qualified for the
race because of that time. With a points race going on, you can't afford
to sit out on Sundays."
Sarver led the Funny Car category with a 4.862 pass at 304.39 in his
White Cap Toyota Celica. It is Sarver's first No. 1 qualifying spot of the
season and fourth of his career.
Sarver has been behind the wheel of the new Toyota entry for just two
events. He qualified in the No. 10 spot at Englishtown, N.J., last weekend
and earned a runner-up finish after he lost to Gary Densham in the final
"This race car is starting to come around," Sarver said.
"(Crew chief) Alan Johnson is getting the tune-up closer and closer
to the finish line. I've yet to make it under full power to the finish
line, so we have some room to work with.
"Our team is real excited, I am very excited and everyone at
Toyota is pleased with what we are doing."
Yates snagged his second straight top qualifying spot and the 24th
of his career when he drove his SplitFire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am to a pass
of 6.853 at 200.20 to lead the Pro Stock category.
"The track got about 20 degrees hotter in the second session and
we had to really adapt to that," Yates said. "There were a lot
of big numbers out there, we just happened to be the quickest one out
The last Pro Stock qualifier was Ron Krisher with a time of 6.878 at
201.73 in his Eagle One Chevy Cavalier - not too far behind the No. 1
"I don't know if that is the best or worst thing I have ever
seen," Yates said. "Because as a fan, that is exciting to see
such close racing. As a driver, it means anyone can win this race. It is
going to be up to the driver to not make any mistakes and to win the
Final eliminations begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
TOPEKA, Kan. -- First-round pairings for professional eliminations
Sunday for the 14th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals presented by
Castrol GTX at Heartland Park Topeka, the ninth of 23 events in the $50
million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in
qualifying, which ended Saturday.
Top Fuel -- 1. Larry Dixon, 4.588 seconds, 320.81 mph vs. 16. Scott
Weis, 4.994, 264.39; 2. Cory McClenathan, 4.618, 322.42 vs. 15. Mitch
King, 4.895, 274.11; 3. Darrell Russell, 4.683, 313.58 vs. 14. Andrew
Cowin, 4.883, 266.95; 4. Tony Schumacher, 4.711, 312.13 vs. 13. Paul
Romine, 4.816, 295.72; 5. Kenny Bernstein, 4.737, 312.35 vs. 12. John
Smith, 4.795, 295.46; 6. Melanie Troxel, 4.737, 299.13 vs. 11. Chris
Karamesines, 4.789, 312.78; 7. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 4.748, 300.80 vs. 10.
David Grubnic, 4.788, 291.51; 8. Doug Kalitta, 4.776, 298.01 vs. 9. Doug
Herbert, 4.787, 311.63.
Funny Car -- 1. Bruce Sarver, Toyota Celica, 4.862, 304.39 vs. 16. Del
Worsham, Pontiac Firebird, 5.099, 294.88; 2. Johnny Gray, Firebird, 4.882,
317.12 vs. 15. Bob Bode, Dodge Avenger, 4.995, 293.98; 3. Tony Pedregon,
Ford Mustang, 4.886, 314.97 vs. 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Firebird, 4.990,
298.67; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Firebird, 4.893, 308.50 vs. 13. John Lawson,
Firebird, 4.990, 299.73; 5. Ron Capps, Chevy Camaro, 4.908, 312.28 vs. 12.
Dean Skuza, Dodge Stratus R/T, 4.985, 305.36; 6. Scotty Cannon, Firebird,
4.913, 308.43 vs. 11. Frank Pedregon, Firebird, 4.970, 305.91; 7. John
Force, Mustang, 4.914, 318.39 vs. 10. Whit Bazemore, Firebird, 4.960,
307.65; 8. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.924, 308.71 vs. 9. Cruz Pedregon,
Firebird, 4.949, 290.13.
Pro Stock -- 1. Jim Yates, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.853, 200.80 vs. 16. Ron
Krisher, Chevy Cavalier, 6.878, 201.73; 2. JR Carr, Pontiac Firebird,
6.854, 201.10 vs. 15. Darrell Alderman, Dodge Neon R/T, 6.876, 200.65; 3.
Mark Osborne, Grand Am, 6.855, 201.16 vs. 14. Mark Pawuk, Grand Am, 6.875,
199.79; 4. Gene Wilson, Neon R/T, 6.856, 201.37 vs. 13. Mark Whisnant,
Cavalier, 6.875, 200.47; 5. Allen Johnson, Neon R/T, 6.859, 201.70 vs. 12.
Richie Stevens, Grand Am, 6.874, 200.17; 6. Jeg Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.859,
200.71 vs. 11. George Marnell, Grand Am, 6.867, 199.37; 7. Greg Anderson,
Cavalier, 6.860, 201.73 vs. 10. Troy Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.866, 200.65; 8.
Warren Johnson, Grand Am, 6.862, 201.25 vs. 9. Bruce Allen, Grand Am,