SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Larry Dixon has been named the driver of the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel Dragster effective immediately, it was announced today. Jason McCulloch will be the team's Top Fuel crew chief.
Dixon is a two-time NHRA Top Fuel Champion having won the title in 2002 and '03. He joined Don Prudhomme Racing in 1988 as a crew member and worked his way into the cockpit earning his Top Fuel license in 1994. He was named NHRA Rookie of the Year in 1995.
The Indianapolis resident has recorded 43 NHRA wins in 83 final rounds and is third on the NHRA's all-time Top Fuel winners list. He finished second in the 2008 NHRA Countdown to the Championship, and in 2007 he finished fourth.
"I'm very excited and looking forward to this opportunity and a new chapter in my career," Dixon said. "I had a great time in my 20 years at Prudhomme Racing, and I am thankful for the opportunities I had in that time. Now I'm ready to start this new chapter in my life; it's a wonderful opportunity, and I feel very blessed to have the ability to take care of my family for the long haul.
"It's a new team, and everybody will be in a new position. It could take us a while to gel as a team, but everyone on this team has won at least one championship in previous ventures so I'd like to think we can hit the ground running."
McCulloch, 37, comes to Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing after six seasons with Don Schumacher Racing where he was the assistant crew chief on the Army Top Fuel Dragster driven by Tony Schumacher. McCulloch's father, Ed, drove for Larry Minor in the 1980s, and Jason McCulloch was a crew member on that team. Dixon's first drag racing job was also with that team. The driver and crew chief of the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Top Fuel Dragster have been friends for more than 20 years.
"This opportunity is great for everyone involved," Jason McCulloch said. "I am the crew chief, but we'll still have Alan looking over everything. We have a very experienced crew; everyone on this top fuel team has at least five years of drag racing experience, and seven of the eight guys also worked together at Schumacher Racing.
"Our goal is to return to the level of excellence we all became accustomed to in our Army Team days. When we get there, we hope to have similar results. We definitely have our work cut out for us because everything we have and are getting is new. We are truly building this team from the ground up. It's exciting; it's a once in a lifetime experience."
"To think that I started my career at the same place and time as Jason, and now we're together as driver and crew chief of a top fuel team is amazing," Dixon said. "We never imagined this would happen, but I'm looking forward to being able to give him his first win as a crew chief, hopefully sooner rather than later."
After more than five years with Don Schumacher Racing, legendary NHRA crew chief Alan Johnson returns to team ownership when Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing debuts in 2009 as a two-car NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series team with one entry in both Top Fuel and Funny Car competition. In September, Del Worsham and Aaron Brooks were named the team's Funny Car driver and crew chief, respectively.
Johnson is widely considered one of the most innovative and successful crew chiefs in NHRA Top Fuel racing. During his just-concluded tenure with Schumacher Racing, he led driver Tony Schumacher to five consecutive Top Fuel titles. On the way to this year's championship, Johnson and Schumacher's Top Fuel dragster set records for consecutive wins (7), wins in a season (15), and consecutive round wins (31). In addition, Johnson won NHRA Top Fuel championships with driver Gary Scelzi in 1997, '98 and 2000.
"When I started thinking about who I wanted in the top fuel cockpit back in the fall, Larry Dixon was among the first drivers I considered," Johnson said. "A two-time champion is a great asset, but I knew there would be obstacles for Larry to overcome to make it happen. It's nice that Larry and Don were able to work things out between them so that Larry could take advantage of this opportunity. I appreciate Don Prudhomme's willingness to work with Larry, and we certainly wish him well with his new driver.
"I have worked with Jason for the last five seasons, and I know he is capable of great things. He is definitely ready to step into the crew chief position, and I know Jason and Larry will work well together. With any new team, it can take some time for the crew chief to earn the driver's confidence, but the fact that this driver and crew chief have been friends for 20 years should accelerate that process."
Johnson's 2006 championship will be forever remembered for "The Run;" a national record-setting run on the final pass at the last race of the season that gave Johnson's team the title. The memorable 4.428 second pass is regarded as the greatest single run in NHRA history by many drag racing historians.
After the Schumacher-driven U.S. Army dragster struggled in the first nine events of the 2003 season, Don Schumacher hired Johnson as the team's crew chief. The hire immediately paid off as Johnson guided the Army dragster to a win in his first event. Schumacher earned the Top Fuel trophy four times in 2003 en route to a third-place finish in points. Johnson and Schumacher earned NHRA Top Fuel titles in each of the next five seasons.
Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing is a partnership between Alan Johnson and His Highness Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani. The team will be a two-car NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Team fielding entries in Top Fuel and Funny Car competition. At the forefront of this partnership is Al Thani's goal to promote the domestic and international awareness of Motorsports in the nation of Qatar. Johnson is an eight-time NHRA Top Fuel Championship crew chief. The team is in the process of establishing its shop and a website. For additional information on Alan Johnson, please visit www.alanjohnsonperformance.com.