Three-win season ends for Russell POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 10) -- Experiencing the same fate as most of the top drivers on the NHRA circuit, Darrell Russell suffered a first-round defeat on a green Pomona Raceway, ending the season for Joe ...
Three-win season ends for Russell
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 10) -- Experiencing the same fate as most of the top drivers on the NHRA circuit, Darrell Russell suffered a first-round defeat on a green Pomona Raceway, ending the season for Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush Top Fuel team.
Russell, the event's low qualifier after a 4.57-second pass in the lone practice session, joined retiring legend Kenny Bernstein, new champion Larry Dixon, and former champion Tony Schumacher on the sidelines as most of the high-horsepower teams failed to navigate a racetrack that has accepted three straight days of relentless rain.
"We all knew it was a crapshoot out there," Russell said. "But the fact most of the other top teams lost doesn't make us feel any better. I can tell you this; I won't let one fluky round of racing overshadow what has been a great year for this entire race team. We overcame a lot of obstacles at the start of the season, switched crew chiefs to Wayne Dupuy, and hired a new crew from top to bottom and yet we still managed to win three races, which is one more than last year, in five final-round appearances. I think that's a successful year by anybody's standards. I'm proud to be a part of this group.
"The exciting thing for this Bilstein Engine Flush System team is our future. We have all the pieces in place to run for the POWERade championship right away and I expect us to contend for the 2003 title. Wayne is signed long-term, I have a contract, we have a great crew, and our main sponsor Marty Yacoobian from Bilstein Engine Flush will be back, plus the guys at Keystone Automotive Operations, Valvoline, Matco Tools, Fram, and many others, have already signed up for another run. We're ready to get after it and I know we all wish the 2003 season started tomorrow."
Today's fateful lap started with Russell gaining a huge starting line advantage over opponent Andrew Cowin, reacting to the lights in .476 seconds to Cowin's .517-second launch. But no more than 60-feet later Russell's hot rod over-powered the bare track and Russell could only watch as Cowin streaked away for a 4.63-second, 319-mph win.
"When I was sitting in the car looking down the track after I did my burnout, I knew we were in trouble," Russell said. "It looked absolutely bare out there. I'm glad we raced today, don't get me wrong, and my hat's off to Andrew, but whenever you race on a track that hasn't see a car go down it in three days, it comes down to a guess. I feel bad for the guys right now but like I said, this has been such a fantastic season for all of us."
Today's sudden-death elimination action will be broadcast this evening from 5-7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN, and will continue from 7-8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.