Brainerd: Darrell Russell finals summary

Dixon exacts revenge on Russell. BRAINERD, Minn. (August 18) -- After two straight wins against POWERade points leader Larry Dixon, sophomore Top Fuel Darrell Russell bowed to the eight-year veteran today in a quarterfinal race decided mostly ...

Dixon exacts revenge on Russell.

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 18) -- After two straight wins against POWERade points leader Larry Dixon, sophomore Top Fuel Darrell Russell bowed to the eight-year veteran today in a quarterfinal race decided mostly by experience. With a trip to the semifinals of the Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals on the line, Russell and Dixon both lost traction several times during their head-to-head battle with Dixon finally calming his 6,000-horsepower machine first, which allowed him to streak away for the victory.

Russell, who had topped Dixon in three of their last four races, had his adversary beaten at the starting line, leaving in .473 seconds to Dixon's .502-second reaction time. But Russell's Bilstein Engine Flush System dragster quickly spun its tires, followed almost immediately by a loss of traction from Dixon's machine. Both drivers then got on-and-off the throttle several times as they attempted to get their cars to hook-up to the race track. In the end, Dixon got the job done first and took a 6.084-second, 250.41-mph win ahead of Russell's resigning 9.147-second pass at 90.78 mph.

"I hate losing like that," the 33-year-old Russell said. "I feel like if I had more experience with pedaling the car under race conditions that I might have been able to pull it off. It's hard when these things start spinning like that, especially so early into the run. It's very tough to control. I've said all along that I'm still learning how to drive these things. You look at Larry and he's been in Top Fuel for eight years. I've been here for 18 months.

"It spun right at the hit of the throttle. Then I was listening for him to come around me but he didn't so I knew he was in trouble also. I hit it again and it smoked right away again, so I grabbed the brake and pedaled it one more time and the car went sideways. By that time I saw that Larry had gotten control of his car and he was gone. I didn't want to be stupid and wreck this thing. It's better to live to fight another day."

By beating Paul Romine in the opening round of today's action, Russell earned a total of 52 championship points this weekend. He still trails Cory McClenathan by just 29 points and is assured of leaving Brainerd International Raceway as part of the POWERade top five. Russell now heads to Indianapolis to prepare for the upcoming U.S. Nationals.

"We can't do anything more here besides move on," Russell said. "We'll get to Indy on Tuesday and start making test laps for the U.S. Nationals. It's our biggest race of the year and we need to get this Bilstein Engine Flush dragster dialed in early."

The elimination rounds of the 21st annual Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals will be broadcast from 9-11 p.m. (ET), today, on ESPN2, with a rebroadcast from 3-5 a.m. (ET), August 30, also on ESPN2.

-jar-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Paul Romine , Larry Dixon , Cory McClenathan