Atlanta: Team Amato eliminations summary

Team Amato quieted early in Atlanta. ATLANTA (May 5) -- A lackluster weekend came to an abrupt end for Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel team and driver Darrell Russell as they lost in the opening round of eliminations at the ...

Team Amato quieted early in Atlanta.

ATLANTA (May 5) -- A lackluster weekend came to an abrupt end for Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel team and driver Darrell Russell as they lost in the opening round of eliminations at the 22nd annual Southern Nationals. Russell nailed down a stellar .453-second reaction time at the starting line but his 6,000-horsepower machine soon lost traction, allowing rival Cory McClenathan to streak away for the win.

"We just never got into a routine this weekend," said Russell, who at least managed to stay perfect as a professional by qualifying for his 31st consecutive race. "Everyone missed a session of qualifying because of the rain, the weather forecast was all over the place, and it hurt us. We never found our groove. Unfortunately, weekends like this happen from time to time. The best thing to do is learn from this and try to get better.

"You have to remember, with the exception of two guys, this is a brand-new team working together for only a few races. I think we showed what we're capable of last weekend in Bristol, going four rounds on Sunday, but this weekend brought us right back down to Earth and reminded us we still have a lot of work to do before we're at a level where we'd like to be. We'll get there soon. We're definitely making progress."

Crew chief Wayne Dupuy, who took over tuning duties on the Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster in Las Vegas, was disappointed in his car's performance and hopes to use the 11-day break between races to regroup.

"I seem to struggle when the track conditions are perfect," Dupuy said candidly. "The combination of cloud cover, cool temperatures, and a great racing surface turned this place into a mineshaft. We saw four teams run 4.5-second laps and I was hoping we'd be right there with them. We should be; we've been one of the top two or three teams in several rounds over the last few races but we didn't get it done here and I take full responsibility for that. I need to test and get some data on good tracks because you never know when the conditions will set up right. When they do I want to be ready."

Russell, Dupuy, and the rest of the Bilstein Engine Flush System team will get their next chance at glory May 16-19 at the 33rd annual Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

Today's elimination rounds of the 22nd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals will be broadcast later this evening from 5:30-7:30 p.m. (ET) and again from 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (ET), also on ESPN2.

-ta-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cory McClenathan