Topeka: Darrell Russell eliminations summary

Russell beats Dixon in Topeka final. TOPEKA, Kan. (May 26) -- Reigning Top Fuel Rookie of the Year Darrell Russell used Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System dragster to slow season-long points leader Larry Dixon's incredible juggernaut for...

Russell beats Dixon in Topeka final.

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 26) -- Reigning Top Fuel Rookie of the Year Darrell Russell used Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System dragster to slow season-long points leader Larry Dixon's incredible juggernaut for a moment by beating the five-time winner in a thrilling final round 4.63 to 4.67.

Without lane choice and sporting an 0-7 lifetime record against Dixon, the odds were stacked against Russell in the Top Fuel finale. But when the heat was on, Russell responded, and he rode new crew chief Wayne Dupuy's stout tune-up to a 4.638 at 314.90 mph to finish well in front of Dixon's 4.670 at 316.38 mph.

The victory gained Russell a measure of redemption for his final-round loss to Dixon in Bristol. The 33-year-old Texan now has three national event wins in nine final round appearances. Dixon meanwhile, improved to 29-4 in elimination rounds this year and has been to eight finals in nine races.

"When you race that Miller Lite car, especially when I race them, it always seems like they're either right next door or out in front of you," Russell said. "This time I never saw them or heard them at all. I thought maybe they had broke or smoked the tires. The second half of the track took forever to get through. I was praying the car would hold together and when the win light came on I just couldn't believe it. I was floored.

"Drag racing is big business and Joe [Amato, team owner] had to make some very hard decisions to take this team in a different direction. Obviously, Wayne has put together a great race car and we've been getting quicker and quicker almost every race since he got here. I'm so happy for him.

"Joe isn't here this weekend but I had him on the cellular phone at the other end. He was over the moon. I said, 'I wish you were here to celebrate' and he said, 'I'm there in spirit.' Joe's secretary Stephanie lost her mother Friday so Joe stayed home. We all dedicate this win to Stephanie's mother and her memory."

Russell started the day with a steady 4.680-second, 309.34-mph victory over Andrew Cowin, who posted a tire-hazing 4.898 at 277.03 mph. In Round 2, Russell overcame a .428 to .490-second headstart by his opponent Melanie Troxel and took the win with a 4.706 at 305.49 mph in front of Troxel's 4.830 at 290.88 mph. Then, with the pressure mounting, Russell posted a cosmic .433 to .490-second holeshot on semifinal foe Cory McClenathan to win with a 4.761 at 301.54 mph to McClenathan's quicker 4.714 at 313.66 mph. The final margin of victory in that thrilling race was one-hundredth of a second.

The elimination rounds of the 14th annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals will be broadcast today from 2-5 p.m. (CST) on ESPN, with a repeat broadcast later this evening from 7:30-9:30 p.m. (CST) on ESPN2, and again from 3-5 a.m. (CST), Friday, May 31, on ESPN2.

-jar-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Joe Amato , Andrew Cowin , Melanie Troxel