Looking Downtrack

The four NHRA points races are kicking into high gear, but we already have the lowdown.

Updated: August 20, 2003, 12:57 PM ET
By Bill Stephens | ESPN The Magazine
The NHRA wrapped up its equivalent of the Ironman Triathlon on Aug. 3, a Western swing with stops in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif. Now, after a stop in Brainerd, Minn., the season is two-thirds gone. And so we ask: who will pull the chutes as champions in November?

Larry Dixon's title defense has been as smooth as his racing slicks. He swept the Swing (just the fourth driver to do it), winning three straight finals for the first time in his career. And he padded his lead over Doug Kalitta by winning final-round showdowns in Denver and Seattle. Just to rub it in, he won low qualifier, low elapsed time and top speed awards at those two events.
At the line: Last year, Dixon was hot early, cooler late. But that downy-soft, 271-point cushion means they may as well start engraving the trophy now.