Brainerd: Darrell Russell Saturday summary

No. 10 qualifier Russell ready for race day. BRAINERD, Minn. (August 17) -- Neither rain nor 40-plus mph winds could stop Rookie of the Year driver Darrell Russell from claiming his 40th career qualifying berth at this weekend's 21st annual...

No. 10 qualifier Russell ready for race day.

BRAINERD, Minn. (August 17) -- Neither rain nor 40-plus mph winds could stop Rookie of the Year driver Darrell Russell from claiming his 40th career qualifying berth at this weekend's 21st annual Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals. Russell, a 33-year-old from Hockley, Texas, drove Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster to the No. 10 position in the elimination field with a 4.769-second pass at 294.56 mph.

Despite his two victories in the last three nationals events, Russell will have his hands full from the start Sunday as he yields lane choice to No. 7 qualifier Paul Romine in the opening round of eliminations. Romine's best pass of the weekend was a 4.734 at 300.20 mph. Russell, who entered this race just 27 championship points out of third place in the POWERade rankings, has a lifetime mark of 2-0 versus Romine.

"It took some real work to get the job done this weekend," Russell said. "We ended up losing a round Friday because of the rain and that put us behind. Fortunately, everyone missed the round so we were all in the same situation. Then we were on a great pass in the final round today when the parachute came out halfway down the track. That was disappointing. But working through adversity is a key factor for a winning team and I know our guys will show once again they can handle whatever gets thrown at them.

"Wayne Dupuy, our crew chief, feels like he's found some more horsepower so this Bilstein Engine Flush dragster should start running even quicker and faster than it has been. With the cool temperatures and strong tailwind this weather system has brought, we might even see this team stepping up big tomorrow. Still, we'll shift to race mode now and concentrate on winning rounds and getting the car down the track every pass."

Sunday will mark the last time any drag racer will traverse Brainerd International Raceway in it's current configuration as track owners will immediately begin renovations that call for a new drag strip boasting over 660 feet of new concrete.

"We all know Brainerd can be tricky," Russell said. "The concrete launching pad, as it is right now, is probably one of the shortest we see all year. You really have to nail your clutch set-up or your day can end early. I know we're all excited about the changes they're making here for next season but we have a race to run first. We'll be ready."

Qualifying highlights of the Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals will air from 8-10 p.m. (ET) this evening on ESPN2. Sunday's eliminations will be broadcast from 9-11 p.m. (ET), Sunday, on ESPN2, with a rebroadcast from 3-5 a.m. (ET), August 30, also on ESPN2.

-jar-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Paul Romine , Joe Amato