Las Vegas: Darrell Russell final qualifying notes

Amato Racing ready to stir it up in the desert LAS VEGAS (April 7) -- Saturday's final two rounds of qualifying action at the third annual SummitRacing.com Nationals saw Rookie of the Year Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell drive Joe Amato's...

Amato Racing ready to stir it up in the desert

LAS VEGAS (April 7) -- Saturday's final two rounds of qualifying action at the third annual SummitRacing.com Nationals saw Rookie of the Year Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell drive Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush dragster through it's best lap of the weekend, a 4.812-second pass at 302.35 mph. The elapsed time places Russell 12th on the elimination ladder and extends his perfect streak of successful qualifying efforts to 28 races.

With crew chief Wayne Dupuy and a substitute crew preparing the car, Russell will open his quest for another Las Vegas victory -- he won here last October -- against Japanese newcomer Yuichi Oyama. The part-time racer from Tokyo qualified fifth with a pass of 4.722 seconds at 314.75 mph.

"There's no question we're in a transitional phase here and Wayne has made a lot of changes on this car as he gets it set-up the way he likes it, but I still think we can have a little success today," Russell said. "Under the circumstances, I think this group of guys has done an outstanding job of getting the car to the starting line four times this weekend."

Russell and Co. survived massive crew changes and a broken-down transporter leading into this event. A last-minute substitute crew was called in to assist Dupuy and Russell prepare the car for competition. So far, although Dupuy admits to being nowhere near the performance level he expects from the car, the patchwork group hasn't missed a beat, running in all four qualifying sessions.

"Changes like we've been through in the last three weeks are tough," Dupuy said. "I wish I had a month to get this car set-up the way I want it to be, to hire the guys I need, and to rearrange the shop and the trailer to be a little more functional. But we don't have that luxury so we'll just work around the clock to catch up.

"The tune-up on the car is getting a lot closer to how I like it. I know we have the power to win rounds. This team needs something to get excited about and I hope we can start working on that right away. We worked until the wee hours this morning getting everything ready for us to go rounds today so that's what we're going to try and do."

The elimination rounds of the third annual SummitRacing.com Nationals will air today in primetime from 8-10 p.m. (Mountain) on ESPN2. A repeat showing of the elimination rounds will follows from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (Mountain), on Tuesday, April 9, also on ESPN2.

-jar-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato