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Keeping Pace

Sun., Oct. 11, 2009, 12:45 a.m.

DIXON PUTS THE HEAT ON SCHUMACHER WITH FOURTH STRAIGHT NO. 1

Larry Dixon drives in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series behind the wheel of a Top Fuel Dragster. (The Spokesman-Review)
Larry Dixon drives in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series behind the wheel of a Top Fuel Dragster. (The Spokesman-Review)

Larry Dixon, who notched his eighth No. 1 qualifier of 2009 and 39th of his career in the Al-Anabi dragster, sliced his deficit behind NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel points leader, Tony Schumacher, from 54 to 47 points with a 3.783-second pass at 311.27 mph.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

DINWIDDIE, Va. – Second-place Larry Dixon closed the gap between himself and Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher with his fourth straight No. 1 qualifier on Saturday at the NHRA Virginia Nationals.

The other provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 22nd of 24 races in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series were Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock).

The NHRA Virginia Nationals is the fourth race in NHRA’s six-race playoff, the Countdown to 1. The playoff concludes with races in Las Vegas (Oct. 29-Nov. 1) and Pomona, Calif. (Nov. 12-15).

Dixon, who notched his eighth No. 1 qualifier of 2009 and 39th of his career in the Al-Anabi dragster, sliced his deficit behind Schumacher from 54 to 47 points with a 3.783-second pass at 311.27 mph.

“I’m obviously happy to be on the pole here,” said Dixon, who earned seven qualifying bonus points to just three for Schumacher. “You need to be low of those sessions to get those extra bonus points because that adds up. We made up almost a round last week (in Memphis). We didn’t do it this week, but we still gained ground on Tony (Schumacher). If you can do that at the next couple of races, including this one, you could make up a round of racing. From where I’m at, a round of racing would be real nice right now.”

Dixon will get a bye and Schumacher, who qualified fourth in his U.S. Army dragster, will be paired with Terry Haddock in R1 of Sunday’s eliminations.

Beckman, 73 points behind Ashley Force Hood in fourth place, earned the pole with a 4.044 at 305.22 on his fourth and final qualifying attempt in the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T.

“Am I surprised it held up? That’s a tough question because there were some quality cars behind us, but that was a stout number,” Beckman said. “I knew we didn’t leave a whole lot on the table that run, so they were going to have to be darn-near perfect for them to get around us.”

Beckman will meet John Smith in R1 Sunday and Force Hood, who set the track record for speed in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang when she clicked the radar at 311.27 mph, will be matched up against Memphis winner Jeff Arend and the DHL team. Hight (-7) has teammate and team owner John Force in R1 and Tony Pedregon (-35) meets Mike Neff.

Edwards, the Pro Stock points leader, improved on his 6.606 from Friday with a 6.531 (at 211.26) on Saturday that was the second quickest pass in NHRA Pro Stock history. He also set the track records for speed and e.t. in his A.R.Thttp://media.nhra.com/apcm/Young Life Pontiac en route to his NHRA-best 14th No. 1 qualifier of the season.

“What a scary qualifying session for Pro Stock,” said Edwards, who will be paired with V Gaines in R1. “When you pull up there and guys are making their career best runs and it’s the last session, it gets a little nerve-wracking. We were low with a .58 last session and I bet that’s not even in the top half now. Hats off to my guys. We made another really fantastic run and I’m just so proud of them and everything that they’ve done.”

Greg Anderson (-88) will meet Dave Northrop, Jason Line (-91) has Ryan Ondrejko, and defending NHRA Full Throttle Series champion Jeg Coughlin (-132) faces Greg Stanfield.

Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. ET today and be shown on ESPN2HD beginning at 7 p.m. ET.




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.