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Top Fuel's Dixon: 4-wide unknown, so it's uncertain

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com
Wednesday, Mar. 03, 2010

Larry Dixon has some experience in four-wide racing, but that was back when he was growing up in Van Nuys, Calif.

“The only time I’ve ever gone four-wide anything,” said Dixon, last season’s runner-up in the National Hot Rod Association’s Full Throttle Top Fuel point standings, “was (running) in a track meet in high school.”

Dixon and his NHRA counterparts will get a faster – and louder – version of four-wide racing March 25-28 at the Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C., part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex.

For the first time in NHRA history, competitors in all four classifications – Top-Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – are scheduled to race four-wide, rather than in the more conventional and traditional two-wide format.

Dixon, who stopped by zMax on Wednesday, said he doesn’t know what to expect.

“I’m ignorant of the whole deal,” said Dixon, who is third in points as the circuit heads to next week’s Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

“To be honest with you, the thought (of four-wide) has never crossed my mind. I don’t think I’m the only one, either. As a drag racer, you race just one guy.

“In our world, this is so far out of the box, out of our thinking that you don’t really think about it.

"So everybody will come out here to zMax to see how it plays out. All I know is I’ve never pulled up to a starting line with three other people.”

Dixon has had limited success at the Concord track. In the track’s first event in 2008, he qualified first, defeated Doug Foley, then lost to eventual winner Tony Schumacher in the second round of eliminations.

In 2009, he beat Terry Haddock, then lost to the eventual winner again, this time Cory McClenathan.

Those were two-wide races.

“As many questions as there are about this, we’ll get answers,” said Dixon. “It might become an option. It’ll be fun, but you’ve got to be serious about it because it could decide a championship.”

Still, going four-wide is a drastic change. The future of the format is far from secure.

“Hey, there are haves and have-nots, those that wish and wish-not,” said Dixon.

“We’re talking about it, and that’s fine. That’s good for the sport.

"We raced Funny Cars against dragsters once. That sounded great, but it didn’t take and we’re not doing it any more.

"But you’ve got to go try it.”

Besides, if Dixon wins, he said there will be an added bonus.

“Then you get to ‘smoke off’ three guys instead of one,” he said of a drag racer’s traditional tire-burning celebration.

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