Millington: Darrell Russell eliminations summary

Army car dismisses Russell early. MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 22) -- The U.S. Army car of Tony Schumacher proved to be the better Top Fuel machine in the opening round of the 15th annual Mid-South NHRA Nationals, as Schumacher marched past Bilstein ...

Army car dismisses Russell early.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 22) -- The U.S. Army car of Tony Schumacher proved to be the better Top Fuel machine in the opening round of the 15th annual Mid-South NHRA Nationals, as Schumacher marched past Bilstein Engine Flush System driver Darrell Russell to win by a 4.656 to 4.791-second margin.

Things started well for Russell. He easily made up Schumacher's miniscule six-thousandth of a second headstart by the 60-foot timer and was clearly leading by the 330-foot timing cone. But the Army car was simply making too much power today and Schumacher passed Russell just before half-track and went on to take the victory.

"This is a tough loss for us," Russell said." It's tough on me, I know it's tough on [crew chief] Wayne Dupuy, and it's really tough on the crew. They have to work just as hard for a loss as a win, only with a loss there's no reward for all of their effort.

"We've had eight first-round losses on the season now, which to me is just hard to take. What's frustrating is we had such a strong, consistent racecar just a few races ago and now we're struggling. We just need to continue to work hard and get out of this little slump we're in right now. It'll happen, without question. There are too many dedicated guys on this team. But in the meantime it's not a great feeling for any of us."

The team was lifted by the fact they will maintain their top-five ranking in the POWERade championship points standings no matter the outcome of this race. Their closest pursuer in the standings, Doug Kalitta, also lost in Round 1.

"We're not losing ground to Doug but the four guys ahead of us all won their opening round races so there will be more work for us to do to catch them," Russell said."We've got four events left on the schedule so the clock is ticking. We'd really like to finish strong and get set for a championship run in 2003."

Sunday's elimination rounds will air today on ESPN2 from 3:30-7 p.m. (ET). A repeat show of the entire race will run from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. (ET) Friday.

-jar-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta