Larry Dixon, Ron Capps, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Michael Phillips triumphed in the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals this weekend in Sonoma, Calif., race 15 of 23.
Dixon maintained his solid No. 1 spot in Top Fuel dragster and more importantly he and owner Alan Johnson continue to be the team to beat. Even though Dixon will forfeit his point buffer when they reset the points for the playoffs, the Al-Anabi Racing Team carries big momentum right now.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. moved ahead of Greg Anderson to get the third spot in Pro Stock Car standings.
With their wins Capps (Funny Car) and Phillips (Pro Stock Motorcycle) clinched a position in the Countdown to 1.
With only two races remaining before the “Big Go” at Indianapolis in September, points garnered now may mean vital position later. Every Countdown spot is separated by 10 points and only two points determined the Top Fuel championship last year.
Every winner except top guy Dixon moved up positions this week.
Next weekend, race 16 of 23, July 23-25, the 31st running of the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway outside Denver will air on ESPN2. The last six races comprise the Countdown to 1, NHRA’s knock out championship run.
Comments from the winners:
Larry Dixon (Top Fuel Dragster) (1st in standings)
“Over the next three races, at a minimum, we want to defend our position and go into the Countdown as the No. 1 seed,” Dixon said. “Our chance to sweep the Western Swing is gone, but you still want to try and do well at the next race. If we can win at Sonoma, that means there’s no sweep. ”
“You know when you’re racing Tony, he’s won a lot of races and the last six championships so you know he’s going to keep you honest,” Dixon said. “You’ve got to go up there and fire your best shot and hope it’s enough. I enjoy racing him. When you (beat the U.S. Army team), there’s no blower belt coming off, you know he’s going to make you earn it so when you do win it makes it that much more gratifying.”
Ron Capps (Funny Car) (5th in standings)
“It’s amazing, when I think about the success that I’ve had at certain tracks, Seattle and Sonoma come to mind,” Capps said. “Seattle was where I had my first win in 1995, in Top fuel, and again later in Funny Car. And I’ve been coming to Sonoma since I was a little kid and have been to three final rounds there, winning once. This part of the NHRA season has always been at tracks where I’ve done well in my career.”
“It’s all confidence,” said Capps “Confidence is built on success. We’ve been testing a lot of things all season long.
“It has been such a pleasure [having Medlen as crew chief]. Not only the confidence that I’ve been given in the car, I now go up there without being afraid of the Tree and worrying about the car. You start to doubt yourself sometimes. He’s so calming until you stage the car and he beats on it, and he starts to walk away, and turns around and beats on it again like a little kid, and he gets me so excited. I think, man, he’s having fun. I’ve got to have fun too. It carries over.”
Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock Car) (3rd in standings)
“We put in a little extra effort into this race to mimic any surprises that might be in store for us,” Coughlin said. “We’ve struggled a bit lately but I think our efforts are paying off.”
“It was a good race car and that’s exactly what you need in Pro Stock when you’re separated by literally 10-thousandths of a second. There is no room for error,” Coughlin said. “We approached this race a little differently from the time we came in on Thursday. We executed from Square One.
“Nothing was my goal more than to get here and focus on race day. When I let the clutch out in the final round, I thought to myself, ‘Let’s go!’ It felt fantastic. When the win light came on, I was going nuts. I don’t get too excited that often. It was a big win for us today.”
Michael Phillips (Pro Stock Motorcycle) (4th in standings)
“We’ve been playing with different carburetors and that’s where we picked up. We’ve been running crazy mile-per-hour,” Phillips said.
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