Baytown: Team Amato preview

Recent performance has Team Amato dreaming big. HOUSTON (April 11) -- If a driver in the POWERade Drag Racing Series is only as good as his last outing then Top Fuel pilot Darrell Russell should once again be considered an early favorite at this...

Recent performance has Team Amato dreaming big.

HOUSTON (April 11) -- If a driver in the POWERade Drag Racing Series is only as good as his last outing then Top Fuel pilot Darrell Russell should once again be considered an early favorite at this weekend's 15th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.

Just a few days ago at the NHRA national event in Las Vegas, Russell drove Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Dragster through the second-quickest pass of the opening session during an elimination round win over Yuichi Oyama. Of the 16 cars making laps, only reigning series champion Kenny Bernstein could better Russell's 4.730-second elapsed time. Not even Larry Dixon, the early-season runaway points leader with three wins in four events, could keep up with Team Amato's effort.

"That pass was exciting for all of us," said Russell, a 33-year-old from nearby Hockley. "Whenever you can post numbers that put you at or near the top of this class, you've really accomplished something. We've made a lot of changes in the last few weeks and to have the car respond this quickly, especially on race day, is a real testament to the hard work and determination of everyone involved with this team."

Although Russell exited in the second round of the Las Vegas event after ignition problems translated to tire smoke on the race track, the popular pro still managed to move his team into the Top 10 of the POWERade championship points standings. Now the crew is ready to collectively take the next step towards winning a race and ultimately the POWERade title.

"What's Darrell's career-best time and top speed?" crew chief Wayne Dupuy asked. When told Russell's personal-best numbers show a 4.544-second quarter-mile pass at 322.96 mph, Dupuy responded confidentially. "If the humidity doesn't get out of control, we'll reset those numbers this weekend. I'm sure of that. This track is all about going as fast as you can and giving the car all the tune-up it wants. We're at sea level here so everybody goes for broke. We need to keep moving up so we sure won't be shy."

ESPN2's primetime television coverage of this event begins with qualifying highlights from 7:30-10 p.m. (ET), Saturday. The elimination rounds will air from 8-10 p.m. (ET), Sunday, with a repeat showing from 2:30-4:30 p.m., Tuesday.

-ta-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Joe Amato