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Sat, 27 Oct 2001, 11:25 PM

Dixon, Bazemore, Yates, Savoie Grab Top Qualifying Spots at ACDelco Las
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

LAS VEGAS - Larry Dixon set an elapsed time track record and claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot on Saturday at the inaugural ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals.

Larry Dixon
Dixon sped to a 4.509-second run at 323.19 mph to set the pace in Top Fuel competition at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Whit Bazemore, Jim Yates and Angelle Savoie each earned the top qualifying spot for their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the 23rd of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

This is the fourth time this season Dixon has claimed the No. 1 qualifying position in his Miller Lite Dragster. Dixon has six wins in nine final-round appearances and is trying to take over the lead in the Winston Top Fuel points standings. Kenny Bernstein has a 15-point lead going into Sunday's elimination rounds.

Bernstein has claimed two No. 1 qualifiers and two victories in the previous events run at The Strip.

"This is the second straight week that we have set the track record and gotten the (No. 1 qualifying spot)," Dixon said. "(Crew chief) Dick LaHaie brings a tremendous amount to the table. Ever since Brainerd (Minn.) we have had a great car. I have been very impressed.

"Going into every race, we are trying to be the top qualifier and win the event. This place is no different. It's just a matter of finessing and fine-tuning the car to meet the track conditions."

Dixon and Bernstein are on opposite ends of the racing ladder and could only meet in the finals. They faced each other last weekend at the Texas Motorplex event, with Dixon coming away with the victory in the semifinals. Dixon went on to claim his sixth victory of the season.

"I'd rather have the points lead than (the No. 1 spot)," Dixon said. But if things go our way and we are able to win, we will get the points. It seems like in the last couple of months, if we are going to win a race, we have to go through Kenny first."

Whit Bazemore
Bazemore set both ends of the track record in his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird on Friday. The 4.748 run at 323.04 set the pace for the Funny Car order. Bazemore has earned the top spot on the ladder in eight of the last 11 races. The last time Bazemore competed at The Strip, he lost to John Force in the finals.

"I never thought I would have eight No. 1 qualifying positions," Bazemore said. "It has been a lot of fun. A lot has changed (since the last trip to The Strip). Our team has a tremendous amount of confidence. Obviously our performance is backing up our confidence."

Yates' qualifying effort of 6.949 at 197.77 in a Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am was the best in the Pro Stock category.

Savoie, who can lock up her second straight NHRA Winston crown this weekend, set the pace in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a 7.289 pass at 182.35 on a Team Winston Suzuki GSXR.

Final eliminations begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

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