Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) qualifies No. 1 for U.S. Nationals; also Greg Anderson (PS), Chip Ellis (PSM)

Photo courtesy NHRA
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BROWNSBURG, Indiana – It’s been quite a career ride for Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon, but none more challenging than the last 5 1/2 years.

In that time, Dixon went from winning his third Top Fuel championship in 2010 to going winless and finished fourth in the standings in 2011.

Then came a dark three-year period, when he competed in just three races in 2012 and only nine races in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

But make no mistake about it: Dixon is back in 2015 – in a big way.

Even though he’s failed to win in the five final rounds he’s appeared in thus far this season, he’s been one of the strongest drivers in the category, back to full-time status driving for Bob Vandergriff Jr.

The high point, though, came Sunday, as Dixon earned the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel for Monday’s Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Dixon topped the 22-driver field for the biggest race of the season in the NHRA with a best elapsed time of 3.744 seconds at 326.00 mph.

It was Dixon’s second No. 1 of the season, the 53rd of his career and fourth at the U.S. Nationals, the NHRA’s biggest race of the season.

“I know I had great opportunities driving for Don Prudhomme and Alan Johnson and felt real blessed for those opportunities,” Dixon said. “We had a lot of wins, championships, a lot of great teams and a lot of fun – but then it’s over.

“An opportunity presented itself with Bob (Vandergriff). I started out part-time last year and full-time this year. … All of us, we’re trying to take advantage of the situation we’re in. The car is running great, we’ve got some poles, got to several final rounds, we’re up in the points and we want to take advantage of the opportunity that’s in front of us, not just for this race but also for when the playoffs start. We have a chance at another title.”

Billy Torrence (3.771 seconds, 323.58 mph) qualified No. 2, followed by his son, Steve Torrence (3.778/326.08), Dave Connolly (3.793/323.58) qualified No. 4 and J.R. Todd (3.795/323.58) took the No. 5 spot.

In addition, defending and eight-time NHRA national Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher, who qualified ninth (3.812/322.88), is looking to break the U.S. Nationals’ all-time victory record.

Schumacher is currently tied with Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden, with nine wins at Indy in their respective careers.

In Pro Stock, Greg Anderson will go into Monday’s eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier. Anderson topped the field with an elapsed time of 6.562 seconds at 210.70 mph.

Jonathan Gray (6.567/210.05) was second-quickest, followed by Drew Skillman (6.569/210.37), defending Pro Stock champ Erica Enders (6.571/210.54) and Allen Johnson (209.26/210.28).

And in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Chip Ellis took the top spot in qualifying with a time of 6.855 seconds at 195.73 mph. Defending PSM champ Andrew Hines (6.879/193.29) was second-quickest, followed by Jerry Savoie (6.896/194.35), Angelle Sampey (6.899/193.65) and Matt Smith (6.900/191.67).

Here’s the first-round pairings for Monday’s eliminations of the 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals:

Top Fuel — 1. Larry Dixon, 3.744 seconds, 326.00 mph  vs. 16. Doug Kalitta, 3.995, 290.63; 2. Billy Torrence, 3.771, 323.58  vs. 15. T.J. Zizzo, 3.942, 278.98; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.778, 326.08  vs. 14. Richie Crampton, 3.892, 305.15; 4. Dave Connolly, 3.793, 323.58  vs. 13. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.887, 315.78; 5. J.R. Todd, 3.795, 323.58  vs. 12. Antron Brown, 3.868, 318.69; 6. Morgan Lucas, 3.795, 320.13  vs. 11. Leah Pritchett, 3.840, 320.66; 7. Brittany Force, 3.798, 319.60  vs. 10. Pat Dakin, 3.817, 319.75; 8. Shawn Langdon, 3.806, 319.29  vs. 9. Tony Schumacher, 3.812, 322.88.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Kebin Kinsley, 4.035, 280.78; 18. Luigi Novelli, 4.163, 275.90; 19. Terry McMillen, 4.339, 263.41; 20. Wayne Newby, 4.387, 189.36; 21. Clay Millican, 4.838, 299.26; 22. Chris Karamesines, 4.900, 294.82.

Funny Car — 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.936, 323.74  vs. 16. Bob Bode, Toyota Solara, 4.736, 178.10; 2. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.971, 322.96  vs. 15. John Bojec, Solara, 4.211, 297.55; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.976, 318.32  vs. 14. John Hale, Charger, 4.196, 306.88; 4. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.978, 322.11  vs. 13. Chad Head, Camry, 4.157, 300.20; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.998, 319.75  vs. 12. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.152, 293.28; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.000, 314.97  vs. 11. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.113, 314.09; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.017, 305.91  vs. 10. John Force, Camaro, 4.090, 309.49; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.023, 315.49  vs. 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.033, 317.34.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Justin Schriefer, 6.780, 116.48.

Pro Stock — 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.562, 210.97  vs. 16. Aaron Stanfield, Dodge Dart, 6.636, 208.88; 2. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.567, 210.21  vs. 15. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.630, 209.62; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.569, 210.37  vs. 14. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.628, 209.20; 4. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.571, 210.54  vs. 13. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.620, 209.01; 5. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.576, 210.28  vs. 12. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.612, 209.07; 6. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.579, 210.37  vs. 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.605, 209.95; 7. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.580, 210.14  vs. 10. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.602, 208.84; 8. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.582, 210.50  vs. 9. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.588, 209.95.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Matt Hartford, 6.647, 208.39; 18. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.681, 206.48; 19. Kenny Delco, 6.706, 206.80; 20. Steve Schmidt, 6.824, 203.19; 21. Wally Stroupe, 6.962, 199.40.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.855, 196.22  vs. 16. Angie Smith, Victory, 7.011, 189.52; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.879, 194.30  vs. 15. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.998, 191.21; 3. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.896, 194.74  vs. 14. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.978, 192.52; 4. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.899, 193.68  vs. 13. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.967, 191.08; 5. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.900, 192.19  vs. 12. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.962, 191.76; 6. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.903, 195.73  vs. 11. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.915, 194.21; 7. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.903, 195.65  vs. 10. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.915, 195.62; 8. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.905, 195.45  vs. 9. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.908, 194.74.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Redell Harris, 7.064, 189.98; 18. Mike Berry, 7.075, 188.46; 19. Lance Bonham, 7.430, 185.15; 20. Joe DeSantis, broke.

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