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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Keeping Pace

Dixon Grabs Top Qualifying Spot After Two Rounds of Winternationals NHRA Action

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, the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel points runner-up, grabbed the top qualifying position after two rounds at the season-opening 50th Annual Winternationals.

POMONA, Calif. – Larry Dixon joined Robert Hight and Mike Edwards as the provisional pole-sitters after the second of three days of qualifying at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline on Friday.


Dixon assumed the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel from Thursday pace-setter Cory McClenathan with a 3.795-second pass at 317.79 mph. The run all but ensures that Dixon will be in the show a year after the eventual Series runner-up DNQ’d at last year’s rain-soaked Winternationals, his first race for Al-Anabi Racing.


“We’re going to race this year so I’m thrilled about that…” Dixon said. “Today’s probably more realistic of what we’ll see during the weekend. Alan (Johnson) and Jason (McCulloch) made the adjustments (after the car smoked the tires Thursday) and it stuck so that’s nice.”


In Funny Car, defending Full Throttle Series champion Hight set the pace on Thursday with a 4.059 at a track-record 312.86 mph in his Auto Club Ford Mustang and that time held up on Friday. It would be the 33rd No. 1 of his career and second-straight at the Winternationals.


But the run of the day in Funny Car on Friday belonged to John Force, whose category-best 4.066 at 310.41 in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang vaulted the 14-time champion up to No. 3 on the ladder behind Hight and Del Worsham (4.062).


“It’s just exciting always to be back. We’ve worked real hard over the winter,” Force said. “I’m excited (Austin) Coil, (Mike Neff) and Bernie (Fedderly) are working together. Coil is loving it having a young kid with a lot of energy running around.”


In Pro Stock, defending Full Throttle Series champion Edwards’ 6.580 at 210.47 from Thursday in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP also remained on top. This would be Edwards’ 10th straight No. 1 dating back to 2009 when he finished with nine straight No. 1s.


“(Saturday) morning possibly could be a pretty good run,” Edwards said. “But the hotter it gets, it definitely affects the track. You just have to make an adjustment and race the track.”


Qualifying at the historic 50th running of the Winternationals concludes with the third and fourth sessions on Saturday when the fields will be set for Sunday’s final eliminations.


Keeping Pace

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