Bilstein Engine Flush team exits in Round 2. DALLAS (Oct. 13) -- A home state hoedown for Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell will have to wait for another year as the Hockley, Texas-based pro exited this weekend's 17th annual Fall Nationals in ...
Bilstein Engine Flush team exits in Round 2.
DALLAS (Oct. 13) -- A home state hoedown for Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell will have to wait for another year as the Hockley, Texas-based pro exited this weekend's 17th annual Fall Nationals in the quarterfinals. Russell breezed past first-round opponent Dave Grubnic but suffered mechanical problems in his second-round race against Rhonda Hartman-Smith, a loss that resulted in him slipping to sixth place in the points.
"Wayne [Dupuy, crew chief] and I sure wanted to make some noise here in Texas with everyone rooting for us," Russell said." It just wasn't meant to be. We dropped a cylinder right at the hit of the throttle against Rhonda and her eight cylinders beat our seven cylinders down the racetrack. It's as simple as that."
Russell blasted Hartman-Smith at the starting line, leaving the Christmas Tree with a .478-second reaction time to Hartman-Smith's .513-second start. But the loss of horsepower from Russell's laboring engine allowed Hartman-Smith to drive by soon thereafter and she rode away for a 4.660-second, 307.06-mph victory in front of Russell's 4.793-second pass at 301.70 mph.
The day started with an encouraging 4.664-second, 302.62-mph win over Grubnic, who managed just a 4.724 at 307.48 mph. But one round later, Russell watched his Bilstein Engine Flush-sponsored team slip from fifth to sixth place in the tightly contested POWERade championship points standings with the loss to Hartman-Smith.
"There are five drivers all fighting it out for positions 3-7," Russell said."Everyone is within 121 points so anything can happen between now and the end of the year. We did gain a round on [third-place points earner] Tony Schumacher, who is the one guy we're all chasing, but we also lost a round to Cory McClenathan and he passed us up.
"At this point we can't change anything about this race so we'll load up, head to Las Vegas, and get ready to defend our race title out there. We had a great time winning that race one year ago and we'll sure try to do it again this time around."
The elimination rounds of the 17th annual Fall Nationals will be broadcast from 6:30-9 p.m. (ET) tonight on ESPN2 with a repeat showing from 3-5 p.m. (ET) Tuesday.