Reading, Raining, and 'rithmetic: Dixon, Tasca, Coughlin, Krawiec win as playoff implications run thick by ProQuest


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									               EVENT OVERVIEW — 25th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, Aug. 20-23, Reading

                                                                                                                                           Larry Dixon evened the score against his
                                                                                                                                           former team to 2-2 when Spencer Massey
                                                                                                                                           smoked the tires in Don Prudhomme’s U.S.
                                                                                                                                           Smokeless Top Fuel dragster. Dixon scored
                                                                                                                                           his fifth win of the season for the Al-Anabi
                                                                                                                                           team and moved into second place in the
Tim Smalko


             Reading, Raining, and ’rithmetic
   Dixon, Tasca, Coughlin, Krawiec win as playoff implications run thick
           READING — With just this Toyo Tires NHRA                 Funny Car champ Bob Tasca III locked up his                10th-place Cruz Pedregon and, at Force’s hand,
        Nationals and the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals               berth in the playoffs, then continued to the title            11th-place Matt Hagan.
        presented by Lucas Oil remaining in the 18-event         round, where he raced his Motorcraft/Quick Lane                  Heading into the U.S. Nationals, eight of the 10
        regular season of the Countdown to the                   Shelby past Mike Neff in an all-Ford final to score           Top Fuel playoff spots are clinched, eight are locked
        Championship, calculators and spreadsheets shared        his second win of the season. Reigning Pro Stock              in Funny Car, seven in Pro Stock, and seven in Pro
        center stage with torque wrenches and horsepower         world champ Jeg Coughlin, who has led the                     Stock Motorcycle.
        at Maple Grove Raceway, where battles raged for the      standings since the season’s fifth race and had                  With his Top Fuel win, Dixon added Maple Grove
        few positions left in the 10-racer fields for the        threatened to run away with the points battle, finally        Raceway to the list of tracks in the NHRA Full
        Countdown playoffs.                                      got back into the winner’s circle just as Jason Line          Throttle Series where he has won, leaving just two —
           On a weekend dogged by rain that limited              and Mike Edwards were threatening to overtake him             Gateway Int’l Raceway and zMax Dragway — where
        qualifying Friday and Saturday to just one pass each     and now holds a 65-point lead that probably will see          he has yet to notch a victory. Dixon’s first Reading
        day and the resultant water seepage that slowed the      him through the final regular-season race.                    win was also his fifth of the season and 48th of his
        completion of Sunday’s first round by more than             Seven drivers — Funny Car racers Tasca, John               career, and he earned it by defeating the team for
        three hours, NHRA’s Full Throttle stars brought the      Force, Tim Wilkerson, and Del Worsham; Pro Stock              which he drove last year, Don “the Snake” Prud-
        heat and intensity of playoff action to the waning       competitors Greg Stanfield and Ron Krisher; and               homme’s U.S. Smokeless group, and rookie Massey.
        hours of the Countdown to 10.                            Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Guidera — clinched            The final was decided almost immediately when
           Red-hot Antron Brown lost in the Top Fuel             spots in the playoffs while a lot of others had get-well      Massey smoked the tires, leaving him to just watch
        semifinals to eventual runner-up Spencer Massey yet      outings. Pro Stock Motorcycle runner-up Michael               as Dixon sailed to a 3.899 win.
        mathematically locked up the top seed for the            Phillips, for example, battled his way into the top 10,          “This is such a historic racetrack, and I’ve always
        Countdown playoffs and the 20-point bonus awarded        and Pro Stock runner-up Johnny Gray, who reached              wanted to win here,” said Dixon. “My dad won here,
        to the No. 1 points finishers, and Top Fuel winner       the first final of his Pro career, pulled to within nine      running points races back in the day. I just love
        Larry Dixon beat Tony Schumacher in the middle           points of a playoff berth.                                    coming to this track, and for one reason or another,
        rounds to boost the Alan Johnson Racing/Al-Anabi            In Top Fuel, Joe Hartley pulled to within three            we’ve just never been able to close the deal. I’ve
        team into second place.                                  points of 10th-place Clay Millican, and Funny Car             been halfway down the track thinking we’re going to
           Pro St
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