Joliet: Darrell Russell final qualifying summary

Bilstein Engine Flush team stays hot. CHICAGO (June 1) -- Drag Racing's most recent winner, reigning Rookie of the Year driver Darrell Russell, kept Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster in the spotlight by qualifying in ...

Bilstein Engine Flush team stays hot.

CHICAGO (June 1) -- Drag Racing's most recent winner, reigning Rookie of the Year driver Darrell Russell, kept Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster in the spotlight by qualifying in third place for the fifth annual Chicagoland Dodge Dealers Nationals. Russell's best pass of the weekend was a 4.597 at 314.83 mph, which pairs him against part-timer Ken Zeal in Sunday's opening round of eliminations.

"I couldn't be happier right now," Russell said. "The Bilstein Engine Flush System dragster went straight down the track every pass, even when it was hot and greasy out there, until we tried the new tires in Round 4 just to see what they would do. I don't think any other team made three strong passes like we did, which is very encouraging, especially since we ran quick in both lanes."

Unlike many of his peers, Russell posted his best pass during the heat of the day Friday when conditions were similar to what weather forecasters are predicting for Sunday. Usually, the nitro teams post their best results during Friday's lone evening session.

"I've said it before, our crew chief Wayne Dupuy comes to life when it's hot outside," Russell said. "Usually, when conditions get tough like this everyone starts to struggle but Wayne-o's a master of getting the car from A-to-B under power no matter how bad it is out there. It was hot yesterday and got even hotter today but we didn't have any trouble. That's very encouraging heading into race day."

Dupuy, Amato Racing's head wrench for the last six events, decided not to use the new Goodyear rear slicks made available for the first time at this event until the final round of qualifying when the field was basically set and he had the opportunity to test the new rubber under race-like conditions.

"I have a good, consistent, fast race car right now," Dupuy said. "I didn't want to add a variable to the equation that wasn't necessary for us to be successful right now. Besides that, the tire is so new that each team is only allowed two pairs, which means you could make the switch over to the new tire, use up the ones you've got, and have to switch back midway through the race. It just didn't make sense for us right now."

Highlights of the qualifying action will air from 7:30-9:30 p.m. (CST) tonight on ESPN2. The elimination rounds will be broadcast from 6:30-9 p.m. (CST) on ESPN2 with a rebroadcast from 1-3:30 p.m. (CST), Tuesday, also on ESPN2.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato