Dixon provisional No. 1 in Top Fuel, Hawley tops in Funny Car at Nationals

CONCORD, N.C. -- Larry Dixon capped the first day of qualifying in the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals with a 3.846-second run at 310.20 mph to claim the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel.

The other provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the first race in the six-race in the NHRA Playoff, the Countdown to 1, were Frank Hawley (Funny Car), Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Overflow crowds were on hand at Bruton Smith's new zMax Dragway, built adjacent to Lowe's Motor Speedway, to witness the first NHRA POWERade Series event in the state of North Carolina.

Hawley, who campaigned the famed ChiTown Hustler in the 1980s and is competing this year for the first time since 1991, ran a 4.072 at 307.16 to claim the provisional No. 1 in Funny Car. It would be his first No. 1 qualifier in a Funny Car since 1983.

Johnson, who tested at the track a week earlier, had the best combination on the first day of Pro Stock qualifying with his 6.680 at 206.42 in a Chevy Cobalt.

Smith, from nearby King, N.C., claimed the provisional top qualifying position in Pro Stock Motorcycle with his 6.952 at 192.08 on a Buell.