Englishtown: Darrell Russell final qualifying summary

Season-best pass ranks Russell fourth in field. ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 18) -- Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell carded his best lap of the 2002 POWERade Drag Racing season -- a 4.595-second pass at 318.77 mph -- to put Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine...

Season-best pass ranks Russell fourth in field.

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 18) -- Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell carded his best lap of the 2002 POWERade Drag Racing season -- a 4.595-second pass at 318.77 mph -- to put Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster in the No. 4 position of this weekend's 33rd annual Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions.

Russell's first foray into the 4.5-second range and season-best starting position makes him a solid contender for the title of this prestigious event, which is sponsored by one of Amato Racing's major corporate backers. The 33-year-old Texan will now begin his quest for a third career victory against Scott Weis, who qualified 13th with a 4.877 at 276.58 mph. Due to his superior elapsed time, Russell will enjoy the advantage of lane choice over Weis, against whom he enjoys a 3-1 head-to-head record.

"We're just sky-high over here at Amato Racing," Russell said. "We've been searching for a tune-up to run when conditions are at their best, like they were today, and it looks like our crew chief Wayne Dupuy really nailed it. The Bilstein Engine Flush System dragster pulled all the way down the track and I could tell I was really moving down at the top end. Passes like that put a smile on your face that stays there all day, let me tell you.

"My hats off to Wayne and the entire crew. The weather changed drastically and when that happens it's easy to get lost because you're basically starting from scratch. But these guys figured out what the track would hold and they weren't afraid to step on it and go for a big number. The fact we just ran our best lap of the year says a lot about our capabilities."

The weekend started with mild temperatures and clear skies. But by Friday evening the rain was falling, forcing the cancellation of the second round of qualifying. As the weather system passed through the area, the temperatures dropped into the mid-40s, setting up a performance haven for crew chief Dupuy and his 6,000-horsepower dragster.

"It's satisfying to run a strong lap like that but I still feel like this car has so much more potential," Dupuy said. "Our best days are definitely straight ahead of us and there's no reason to think we can't run with the top teams everywhere we go."

Television coverage of the Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions will be presented on ESPN and ESPN2 this weekend. Qualifying highlights will air on ESPN from 5-7 p.m. Saturday with a repeat from 10:00 p.m. to midnight on ESPN2. A three-hour final-round coverage program airs Sunday, beginning at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 with a two-hour repeat Monday beginning 2 p.m. All times listed are Eastern. Canadian viewers can see coverage May 21 from 2-4 p.m., on TSN.

-jar-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Scott Weis , Joe Amato