Joliet II: Team Bilstein preview

Team Bilstein ready to pound on Chicago track. CHICAGO (Sept. 25) -- Three races ago, in a test session prior to the U.S. Nationals, crew chief Wayne Dupuy of the Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster team decided his car was just one...

Team Bilstein ready to pound on Chicago track.

CHICAGO (Sept. 25) -- Three races ago, in a test session prior to the U.S. Nationals, crew chief Wayne Dupuy of the Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster team decided his car was just one step away from being a top-flight, championship-caliber machine. So he decided to do something about it, and now, on the eve of the second annual Craftsman 75th Anniversary Nationals, he's hoping his gamble pays off.

"We needed to make a little more power," said Dupuy, who has guided his driver Darrell Russell to three wins already this season. "The car was running good, but not great. It was dropping cylinders at the top end of the racetrack and our mph numbers were down. We were usually 10 to 15 mph slower than the No. 1 qualifier.

"When we got to Indy for testing we changed some stuff to correct the problem. Right away, our speed improved and we've been running with the top cars ever since. The only thing we've been lacking lately is consistency. It's just taken us some time to get used to the new power and the additional stress it puts on all of the components in the engine. It's been a learning experience but I think we've got it all figured out."

Trying to harness extra horsepower on the marginal racing surfaces of Indianapolis Raceway Park, Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., and Memphis Motorsports Park made Dupuy's job even tougher as crew chiefs usually have to throttle back their tune-ups just to make it from one end to the other at those tracks.

"We won't have that problem any more," said Russell, the sport's reigning Rookie of the Year. "Route 66 Raceway and the Texas Motorplex are two of the best tracks on the circuit. You can pour every bit of horsepower you make into these tracks and they hold it every time. We're all a little excited by what might happen this weekend in Chicago."

Russell's analysis is dead on. Legend Kenny Bernstein set the current national elapsed time record of 4.477 seconds last year in Chicago. Bernstein also posted a top speed of 330.88 mph at Route 66 Raceway. "This track can hold the numbers," Russell said. "We just need to get this Bilstein Engine Flush car into contention and see what happens."

The qualifying rounds of this race will be broadcast from 4-5:30 p.m. (ET), Saturday, on ESPN2. The elimination rounds will air from 8-10:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday, also on ESPN2, with a rebroadcast from 4-6 a.m. (ET), Wednesday, Oct. 2, on ESPN2.

-tb-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein