Disheartening defeat deflates Team Amato. ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 19) -- One of the most consistent cars at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park this weekend -- the Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster of Darrell Russell -- took itself out...
Disheartening defeat deflates Team Amato.
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 19) -- One of the most consistent cars at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park this weekend -- the Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster of Darrell Russell -- took itself out of competition early with a tire-smoking defeat in Round 1 of the Matco Tools SuperNationals. The momentum Joe Amato's team gained with its three solid qualifying efforts of 4.5, 4.6, and 4.7 seconds was lost in a flash at the starting line when the 6,000-horsepower machine overpowered the race track.
"This really hurts," said Russell, the reigning NHRA Rookie of the Year. "It's the single worse elimination round loss of the year for us. I feel a lot worse then I did losing in the finals in Bristol. We all very disheartened over here. It's hard to find something to be positive about right now. This will really be hard for Joe, [crew chief] Wayne [Dupuy], the crew guys, and all of our supporters, especially Matco because this is their race."
Russell had the superior car over first-round opponent Scott Weis, having qualified fourth with a 4.595 at 318.77 mph to Weis' 13th-best 4.877 at 276.58 mph. He even had a brief lead this morning when he jumped out front with a .492-second reaction time to Weis' .520-second start. But the Bilstein Engine Flush System dragster was up in smoke before the 60-foot timers -- even though Russell led at that point .874 to .900 -- as the car totally lost traction. Weis went on to win with a beatable 4.873 at 251.20 mph.
"It didn't seem like I went more than two feet before the tires started spinning," Russell said. "I pedaled the throttle and grabbed the brake but when I hit the throttle again it just spun even harder. Once the car started turning sideways I knew we were done. I saw Scott start hazing his tires down track but he was going too quick to catch at that point.
"This has been a tough year for us, no question, but every race we show more and more signs that we have a top-shelf race car here. We can't reverse the past but we can work even harder at getting this car to be as consistent as it needs to be for us to avoid days like today in the future. The guys are doing everything they can and it's starting to show. We'll be fine, it's just hard to get excited right now because we all feel pretty low."
Television coverage of the Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions continues today on ESPN2. A three-hour final-round coverage program airs from 7-10 p.m. (ET) with a two-hour repeat Monday beginning 2 p.m.