Joliet: Darrell Russell finals summary

Russell's upward climb hits small bump. CHICAGO (June 2) -- One week ago, Bilstein Engine Flush System driver Darrell Russell took it to POWERade points leader Larry Dixon in a thrilling Top Fuel final in Topeka, Kan., winning by a 4.63 ...

Russell's upward climb hits small bump.

CHICAGO (June 2) -- One week ago, Bilstein Engine Flush System driver Darrell Russell took it to POWERade points leader Larry Dixon in a thrilling Top Fuel final in Topeka, Kan., winning by a 4.63 to 4.67-second advantage. Today, Dixon got even, dismissing the reigning Rookie of the Year 4.57 to 4.61 in the second round of the fifth annual Chicagoland Dodge Dealers NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

Russell beat Dixon off the starting line, .472 to .476, and was still ahead by a 3.08 to 3.09-second advantage at half-track, but his Bilstein Engine Flush dragster couldn't traverse a small bump on the race track around the 900-foot mark without slightly losing traction, which allowed Dixon to slip by for a photo-finish victory.

Earlier in the day, Russell had beaten first-round opponent Ken Zeal in an easy 4.679-second pass at 311.92 mph against Zeal's 4.867 at 268.92 mph. That win came in the smoother left-hand lane but Russell's elapsed time wasn't quick enough to earn him the all-important lane choice advantage over Dixon, who had posted a 4.65 in Round 1.

"That was the difference," Russell said. "If we had been in the other lane it could have turned out differently for us. The car really jumped when it hit that spot and I could feel it swaying around. I still thought I might win. I never saw him or heard him until past the finish line. I guess that bump got us. Hey, that's racing, so you shake Larry's hand and wish him well and we'll head to Columbus [Ohio] knowing we still have a great race car. No one is down in this pit. We all want to win, it just wasn't meant to be for us today."

Team owner Joe Amato was relatively happy with his team's performance, especially considering the fact that his sixth-ranked driver was able to gain ground on the three drivers directly ahead of him in the POWERade championship points standings.

"It's always better when it's a fair race track in both lanes and one side doesn't have a dip in it like the right lane does here," Amato said. "That just takes away the fairness of the deal. But the car's running good and I'm happy for Bilstein Engine Flush, Keystone Automotive, American Racing Wheels, Valvoline, and Matco Tools. We made up some ground in the points and the guys did a good job. [Dixon's crew chief Dick] LaHaie just did a little better than us today so we're going home and they're still racing."

The elimination rounds of the fifth annual Chicagoland Dodge Dealers NHRA Nationals will be broadcast from 6:30-9 p.m. (CST) on ESPN2 with a rebroadcast from 1-3:30 p.m. (CST), Tuesday, also on ESPN2.

-jar-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Joe Amato