Two-time champion Larry Dixon handled the Top Fuel field Saturday to earn the No. 1 qualifying position for Sunday's NHRA Carolinas Nationals, the first race in NHRA's six-race playoff.

The other provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 19th of 24 races in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series were Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

The NHRA Carolinas Nationals is the first race in NHRA's six-race playoff and it is the first of a four-races-in-four-weeks run that includes stops in Dallas, Memphis, Tenn., and Richmond, Va., to begin the Countdown to 1.

Dixon, a two-time world champion (2001-02) who finished the regular season in second place, earned the No. 1 spot with a 3.844-second pass at 313.66 mph in Saturday's first session.

In each of the three other categories, beginning with Pedregon in Funny Car, the No. 1 qualifiers from Friday held up on Saturday.

Pedregon, who missed the playoffs by five points, earned his second No. 1 of 2009 and the 38th of his career with the 4.087 at 303.91 he delivered in Friday night qualifying.

In Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, there were also no changes from Friday when Edwards (6.614 at 208.36 mph) and Arana (6.965 at 189.98) laid down their No. 1 qualifying runs. For Edwards, it was his NHRA-best 11th No. 1 qualifier this season.