BAYTOWN, Texas — Two-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon claimed his 41st No. 1 qualifying spot Saturday night for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, wresting the top spot from Friday’s polesitter Antron Brown on the final pass of Top Fuel qualifying. Friday’s leaders John Force (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana remained No. 1 in their respective classes after Saturday’s final two sessions of qualifying.
Dixon secured the No. 1 qualifier spot in dramatic fashion in the final session Saturday evening, fighting off Brown in the quickest side-by-side run in the history of 1,000-feet competition. Dixon’s pass, 3.772 e.t./323.19 mph, was both the second quickest and second fastest at 1,000 feet and a career best for the two-time Top Fuel champ. Brown’s 3.777-second, 318.09-mph run was also a career best and the fourth quickest ever. Dixon will square off against No. 16 qualifier Del Cox, Jr., while Brown will line up against Cox’s teammate and 2009 top rookie Spencer Massey, making his first NHRA start this season, on Sunday.
With a run of 4.061 seconds or better during eliminations Sunday, Force can back up his Friday 4.021 e.t. to set the national record for Funny Car at 1,000 feet. Ron Capps currently holds the record (4.023 seconds) set at Phoenix Int’l Raceway last February. Force, starting No. 1 for the 133rd time in his career, will face Tony Pedregon in the first round of eliminations Sunday.
Edwards regained his qualifying form at HRP after his 12-race streak of poles ended two weeks ago at zMAX Dragway. Edwards’s 6.539e.t./212.43 mph solidified his fourth No. 1 qualifier position of the season. He’ll line up next to Rickie Jones when Pro Stock eliminations begin Sunday.
Pro Stock Motorcycle point leader and defending series champ Arana led the way for the two-wheel class, snagging his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 10th of his career with a 6.856-second, 195.25-mph run. It will be Arana and Steve Johnson in the first round on Sunday.