Larry Dixon is making up for lost time – in VERY fast way, that is – as in the neighborhood of 320-plus mph and less than four seconds.
Dixon went from being on top of the drag racing world, with 62 national event race wins and three NHRA Top Fuel championships, to incredulously becoming a man without a full-time ride after the 2011 season.
It appeared that his career was all but over until veteran Top Fuel driver and team owner Bob Vandergriff gave Dixon a part-time Top Fuel ride last season.
Dixon’s performance was enough to convince Vandergriff to do something he had contemplated for a while – to step out from behind the wheel and focus solely on team ownership – making Dixon his hand-picked replacement on a full-time basis for the 2015 season.
To say the least, Dixon, 48, has not disappointed.
“I definitely think we’re going in the right direction,” Dixon said in an NHRA media release. “After Gainesville (walked away from a spectacular crash — see video above), we were 12th (in points) and now we’re in sixth and the car is running well.
“I ran a career-best E.T. and speed (this past Sunday at Topeka) and I think we have a top five car. I would like to think that we’re in a great spot to compete for a championship.”
While Dixon’s Bob Vandergriff Racing teammate Dave Connolly, a former standout in the Pro Stock ranks, has struggled at times in his first season in Top Fuel (13th in the standings), Dixon is definitely impressing in his 10,000-horsepower C&J Energy Services dragster.
While he hasn’t won a race in the first eight on the 24-event national schedule, Dixon has twice motored his way into the finals this season, including this past Sunday at Topeka, as well as a few weeks earlier at Houston (photo). He also has a semi-final finish in a third race.
“There is a lot of newness and you have to try to get in that groove to run every week,” Dixon said of a crew that includes several first-time members, including crew chief Mike Guger. “The (Gainesville) accident set us back.
“The car was running well before that happened. But a lot of credit goes to Bob for making sure we have everything it takes to bounce back. He bought the new car and got it ready, and Bob gives us everything we need, as far as parts and people, to compete week in and week out so a lot of credit goes to him.
“I think everyone on the team has something to offer. We were able to bounce back from (the crash) and we’ve gone in the right path since then.”
The next race on the schedule is next weekend’s Toyota Summernationals, June 4-7, at one of the sport’s most legendary facilities, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.
Dixon is ready to continue making up for all the lost time before his career was revived by Vandergriff.
“Ever since I was a kid I wanted to race Top Fuel cars,” Dixon said. “I had the opportunity for a long time and I wasn’t sure if I would get another opportunity again.
“The opportunity with Bob and his team came up and I’m trying to take full advantage.”