Larry Dixon, a three-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion, is returning to driving this weekend at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals Friday through Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.
Dixon is driving the Dote Racing Top Fuel dragster at zMax Dragway and also at St. Louis (Sept. 28-30) and Reading, Pa. (Oct. 4-7). Dixon is replacing Hillary Will at Dote Racing.
“For the most part it was just a simple text from Doug Kuch (Dote Racing’s crew chief),” Dixon said how this deal with Dote Racing transpired. “I saw Hillary (Will) after first round (at the U.S. Nationals) and they told her their plans that they were looking at putting Leah Pruett in the car and building for next year, but she is not licensed in the car. So, I get a text from Doug and I assume it’s to come over there (to the Dote Racing pits at the U.S. Nationals). I went and did the ESPN Sportsman show and headed over to their pit. They asked me, yeah they are going to put Leah Pruett in the car, and they are going to try and get her licensed on Monday after Charlotte (Sept. 17). In the interim until they could get her up to speed they wanted to know if I wanted to drive these last three races and I said sure and shook hands and that was pretty much it. I’m filling in the seat for the moment until they get her up and going.”
Pruett is expected to test on Monday at Charlotte for Dote Racing. Pruett would not confirm she is the driver to replace Hillary Will. Pruett is presently sixth in NHRA’s Pro Mod Series.
Dixon is excited about the opportunity Dote Racing is giving him.
“It has been a little while since I got to go out and play,” Dixon said. “I’m looking forward to it. I thank the Dotes and Doug Kuch for thinking enough of me to put me in the car while they transition.”
The last time Dixon was behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster was at the 2011 NHRA Auto Club Finals on Nov. 13 when he lost in the semifinals to Tony Schumacher in Pomona, Calif. Dixon was driving for Al-Anabi Racing.
“I have never had this long of a layoff ever, but with that being said Doug Kuch and the Dotes have the best equipment money can buy,” Dixon said. “All their equipment is unbelievably nice. I got an opportunity to look at everything (Monday). I have known Doug Kuch forever and that (Dote Racing) car will throw a number on the board every now and then and hopefully in these last three races we all can go out there and have some fun. Let them get ready for ’13 and hopefully the same case for me.”
Dixon said he has known Kuch for 25 years.
“I was crewing on Don Prudhomme’s Funny Car and at the same time he was crewing on Kenny Bernstein’s Funny Car, and that’s when we became friends,” Dixon said. “We have always stayed in touch and he is a really great guy.”
Alan Johnson Racing and Dixon agreed to a mutual separation Dec. 12, 2011. Alan Johnson Racing manages the two-car Top Fuel operation of the Al-Anabi Racing Team.
Dixon has 62 national event Top Fuel victories, including winning all 12 of his final round appearances in 2010 when he won a world championship for Al-Anabi Racing. Dixon also won Top Fuel world titles in 2002 and 2003.
Dixon, who earned his NHRA Top Fuel license in 1994, has spent this season trying to establish his own Top Fuel team, Larry Dixon Racing.
“There is a lot of good activity,” said Dixon about the progress of his own team. “Things aren’t moving as fast as I would like them to, but they are still moving and progressing. (There is) a lot of action right now. This is when all the companies do their budgets and set up for ‘13, and hopefully I’m in the thick of things with a few companies to market their brand.”
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