Larry Dixon

As eliminations began at Firebird International Raceway, Spencer Massey’s lead in the 2011 NHRA Countdown to the Championship race was in jeopardy as the FRAM/Prestone driver failed to qualify for the Arizona event.

The 29-year-old driver entered the weekend holding a 65-point lead over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown, but the inability to get down the hot, tricky race track in any of the four qualifying rounds Friday or Saturday ended up costing him the points lead.

The DSR Top Fuel dragsters were stripped of the cockpit covers they had used for the previous nineteen events. Team owner Don Schumacher was not happy with NHRA’s action.

“We’re kind of scratching our heads,” explained a disappointed Massey on Saturday, who had won the previous race. “The car was wanting to run like it did in Maple Grove; we just couldn’t seem to tame the beast, which was very unusual for this great FRAM/Prestone team. They have been so good at getting this hot rod from A to B without any drama – we even went 40 rounds without smoking the tires at one point in the season!

“There may be some ‘little bug’ somewhere so we’ll go over everything and figure it out. We won’t even be in Phoenix for Sunday’s race because we’re heading to Las Vegas to test on Monday and get ready for those last two Countdown races.

Larry Dixon edged Antron Brown by just .008 seconds to win an all-Toyota Top Fuel final at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. The victory was the 15th for a Toyota-sponsored Top Fuel driver in 20 races this season.

Dixon, who won the pole on Saturday, defeated Terry McMillen, Bob Vandergriff and Steve Torrence on the way to the finals.  With the victory, the reigning Top Fuel champion jumped from fourth to second in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs with just two races remaining.