CONCORD, N.C. --
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
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."
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.
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.
"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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