Larry Dixon, Tony Pedregon, and Greg Anderson all scored their second victories of the year Sunday at the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals. Dixon claimed the Top Fuel crown over Doug Kalitta, Pedregon ran away from a fouling Whit Bazemore to bag the Funny Car title, and Anderson used a holeshot to better Kurt Johnson in Pro Stock.
Dixon answered beer rival Brandon Bernstein's back-to-back victories at the last two national events with his third win in a row at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He also made it a memorable 62nd birthday for team owner Don "the Snake" Prudhomme. Marching straight down the track, Dixon's 4.608 at 312.57 mph out-paced Kalitta's 4.695 at 314.39 mph.
This was the 27th career win for Dixon, tying him with Cory McClenathan for the most victories among active, full-time Top Fuel racers. Dixon and McClenathan are also tied for fourth on the all-time Top Fuel wins list behind Joe Amato (52 wins), Don Garlits (35 wins) and Kenny Bernstein (35 wins).
"A win and the speed record in the same weekend sure takes the heat off of me for what I'm gonna get 'Snake' for his birthday," Dixon said. "We were trying to remember the last time Snake's camp had the speed record and we think it was all the way back in 1985, so we're thankfully to get it here, even if it's only for one weekend.
"I love Las Vegas. I wish we could race here every weekend. It was a scare at the other end because my car was coming apart and the little win light on my side was actually broken. Doug thundered by at the other end and I didn't see the light so I thought I had lost. It wasn't until Teresa Long of National DRAGSTER came running over to me and told me that I won that it started sinking in. I feel fortunate that he had a little more trouble then we did and we ended up with the win."
Points leader Dixon reached the 50th final of his career by keeping his Miller Lite rail in the mid-4.5 second range in the first three rounds. He posted a 4.54 against Mike Strasburg and 4.57s opposite Doug Herbert and David Baca, before his 4.60 clocking in the final.
Top qualifier Kalitta was there for the taking in the first round when he labored through an off-pace 4.98 in his Kid Rock-themed Mac Tools dragster. But his opponent, Steve Chrisman, had a forgettable .403-second light and surrendered the win a few hundred feet into the pass, allowing Kalitta to get the easy win. Kalitta then returned to form, beating Rhonda Hartman-Smith and Brandon Bernstein with a pair of 4.66s. Top Fuel results
Pedregon finally broke through for his first victory at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after two runner-up finishes in the past. This one was gift-wrapped when final-round opponent Bazemore had a forgettable -.089-second foul start. Just for good measure, Pedregon blazed down the track anyway, recording a steady 4.916 at 283.07 mph. Bazemore attempted a full pass but shutoff when he neared the left-side retaining wall. This was the 21st career win for Pedregon.
"A little anticlimactic at the end, but we'll take the win," Pedregon said. "I think Bazemore was at half-track by the time it registered in my head that he had red-lighted. I still ran it down through there but I did shut off a little early when the engine started going away.
"This wasn't a knock 'em down weekend for us. We just made our own breaks and tried to keep the car in one piece. The guys did a good job of recovering between every round. The first round was really our best. We ended up with two complete engine changes on the day. The guys did their job and I'm sure John [Force] is proud of us.
"Bazemore and Prudhomme's guys proved today what we've been saying all along, that this is going to be a tough class all year long. They're not going anywhere and neither are we.
Matco Tools pro Bazemore combined performance and a little bit of luck to race to his 29th career money round. The race's No. 1 qualifier used a quick 4.81 to dismiss Jack Wyatt, a 5.23 to better Scotty Cannon, and a 4.89 to blow out the candles on birthday boy Tommy Johnson Jr.'s cake. Bazemore's dubious win over Cannon came when his teammate broke just past the launch pad.
Pomona winner Pedregon regained the Funny Car points lead from Team Force partner and defending event champion Gary Densham just by reaching the 42nd final round of his racing career. The Castrol Syntec pro dismissed his boss John Force, Ron Capps, and Densham along the way. Funny Car results
Former Pro Stock teammates Anderson and Kurt Johnson staged a great final with Anderson taking a holeshot victory to become the first two-time winner this season. Johnson had the quicker car of the money round, posting a 6.896 at 201.10 mph against Anderson's 6.907 at 200.95 mph, but the .016 to .051-second advantage Anderson gained at the starting line was too much for K.J. to overcome.
This was the sixth career victory for Anderson, who has now led his class in the POWERade championship points standings for the last three races.
"There's not a soul out here that can say we didn't earn this one," Anderson said. "Kurt too, he did a great job today. The two best cars this weekend made it to the final. It doesn't always happen that way.
"This is huge. I'm so happy for [team owner] Ken Black and his entire family. They've done so much for me over the past two years. He's so happy right now. I just thank the good Lord I came through for him today.
"I had a great car all weekend. The guys did a great job preparing for this race. It's early but its great to be in the points lead and running at the top of the pack. We're all lucky that we have wives and families that allow us to put in the hours it takes to pursue our dream like this."
Anderson's Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am was the quickest of the first two rounds, clicking off a 6.87 against defending series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and a 6.88 against Barry Grant, who left before the Tree was activated. Then he slowed slightly to a 6.901 in a semifinal win over Warren Johnson, which gave lane choice to Kurt in the final. In the end, it didn't matter as his win padded his lead over K.J. to 63 points.
K.J.'s ACDelco Cavalier was extremely consistent, carrying the 42-time finalist to a 6.88-second win over reigning Rookie of the Year Gene Wilson, a 6.89-second victory over Mike Edwards, and a 6.89-second dismissal of Mark Whisnant. Johnson also reached a track record top speed of 201.73 mph in the opening session. Pro Stock results
David Wells saved the best run of the day, a 5.37, for the final round of Alcohol Dragster, where he defeated Don Hudson 5.45. In Top Alcohol Funny Car, Bucky Austin was able to drive around Cy Chesterman's final-round holeshot to secure the win, posting a 5.65, 257.14 to get past Chesterman's valiant 5.69, 253.47.
In a rematch of their final-round Comp clash at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, David Rampy avenged his loss to Dean Carter to score his 46th career win. Jeff Lane upset Summit-backed racer Dan Fletcher in the Super Stock final, running a 9.14 on a 9.11 dial to best Fletcher's 10.48 on a 10.43, while brothers Toby and Jody Lang squared off to settle the Stock title. Toby's G/SA entry took a double-breakout win, 11.920 on an 11.96 dial to defeat Jody's 12.877 on a 12.93.
In Super Comp, Brent Cannon scored for the first time in 10 years, capturing top honors on Guy Aguayo's red-light. Todd Stewart defeated Greg Carrillo for the Super Gas trophy, but the race didn't end there as Carrillo's '34 Chevy roadster made a hard turn past the finish line right in front of Stewart, who plowed into him. Both cars are heavily damaged, but the drivers were not injured.
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