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NHRA LODRS IHRA Drag News Photos
Fri, 12 Sep 2008, 09:38 PM

Dixon Provisional No. 1 in Top Fuel on First Day at Spectacular zMax Dragway
Courtesy of NHRA Communications
Photo copyright 2008 Auto Imagery, Inc.

Frank Hawley, Kurt Johnson and Matt Smith Round Out Provisional No. 1 Qualifiers



CONCORD, N.C. --

Larry Dixon
Larry Dixon capped off the first day of qualifying at the Inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals with a booming 3.846 at 310.20 to claim the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel.

The other provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the first race in the six-race in the NHRA Playoff, the Countdown to 1, were Frank Hawley (Funny Car), Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Overflow crowds were on hand at Bruton Smith's brand new zMax Dragway, built adjacent to Lowe's Motor Speedway, to witness the first-ever NHRA POWERade Series drag race in the state of North Carolina.

"Man this place is so nice," said Dixon, who is seeking his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and second in a row. "I'm just proud (Bruton Smith) thought so much of our sport to spend that kind of money."


Frank Hawley
Dixon's U.S. Smokeless team opened the playoffs in second place behind record-setting Tony Schumacher's U.S. Army team, which finished the first day of qualifying outside the Top 12 and therefore not yet qualified. Schumacher will be looking to extend his active NHRA Top Fuel records for consecutive wins (6) and total wins (11) and break the all-time record for wins in Top Fuel that he shares with Joe Amato (52).

Hawley, who campaigned the famed ChiTown Hustler in the 1980s and is competing this year for the first time since 1991, ran a 4.072 at 307.16 to claim the provisional No. 1 in his Rite Aid Dodge Charger. It would be his first No. 1 qualifier in a Funny Car since 1983.

"What I want to do is put this car in the No. 1 qualifying position so that everybody will quit reminding me when was the last time was that I was No. 1," said Hawley, who has every expectation that he will retain the No. 1 position. "Let's put it this way, I already shook (crew chief) Aaron (Brooks)'s hand and congratulated him so I hope I'm not wrong."

Among the notable Funny Car drivers not yet qualified are Countdown to 1 drivers Jack Beckman, John Force and Tony Pedregon.


Kurt Johnson
Johnson, who tested at the track a week earlier, had the best combination in on the first day of Pro Stock qualifying with his 6.680 at 206.42 in his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt.

"There's a bunch of fire-breathing dragons out there and it's so close," said Johnson, who entered the playoffs in second place behind Greg Anderson. "We have the ball rolling and now we need to keep it rolling."

Among the notables not yet qualified in Pro Stock are Countdown to 1 drivers Allen Johnson and Ron Krisher as well as Tom Hammonds.

Smith, from nearby King, N.C., claimed the provisional top qualifying position aboard his Nitro Fish Buell with his 6.952 at 192.08. He begins the Countdown to 1 in first place.


Matt Smith
"This place is awesome," Smith said. "And I'm glad to have a home track. The surface here is so smooth and that is really important for (the bikes) because we don't have a suspension so we feel every bump. I think I could have run maybe a 6.94 because we left a little bit on the table early in the run but otherwise, that was pretty good."

Qualifying will conclude Saturday with the third and fourth rounds of qualifying and the race will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.





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