Joliet II: Darrell Russell eliminiations summary

Runner-up finish for Russell and Co. CHICAGO (Sept. 29)-- Second place will have to do for Darrell Russell and the rest of Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster team. Russell raced through to the finals of the Craftsman 75th...

Runner-up finish for Russell and Co.

CHICAGO (Sept. 29)-- Second place will have to do for Darrell Russell and the rest of Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster team. Russell raced through to the finals of the Craftsman 75th Anniversary Nationals at Route 66 Raceway only to be denied his sixth career win by Doug Kalitta, who posted a 4.594-second pass at 323.27 mph, well ahead of Russell's retiring 7.331 at 120.74 mph.

"Winning an event on the POWERade tour is the ultimate feeling," said Russell, who has three wins and two runner-up finishes this year."But getting to the finals and losing feels like the ultimate defeat. I know by tomorrow we'll look back and say we had a great weekend but that doesn't take away the feeling we all have in our gut right now.

"Our crew chief Wayne Dupuy and every member of this Bilstein Engine Flush team should be commended. Once again, they gave me a great racecar to drive. We didn't do much to it before the finals, just a normal service routine. We were ready to win this race but it just wasn't our day. Still, a runner-up finish is an okay deal."

Russell opened the day with a convincing victory over John Smith, winning with a 4.622-second pass at 320.66 mph over Smith's surrendering 5.150 at 228.61 mph. Joe Hartley was next, and just as Smith did before him, Hartley struggled to navigate the right-hand lane, posting just a 4.891 at 299.93 mph to Russell's superior 4.637 at 321.04 mph.

Russell's biggest elimination-round win of the day came in the semifinals where he dismissed points rival Cory McClenathan for the fourth time in a row. Once again, the victory came courtesy of Russell's exceptional reaction time, as he left the starting line with a .482 to .510-second headstart. At the other end, Russell's 4.651 at 314.53 mph gave him the win over McClenathan's 4.640 at 306.33 mph.

"You want to do well for your team and especially all the sponsors," said Russell, who remains fifth in the POWERade points despite gaining serious ground on the competition."We have such great support from Bilstein Engine Flush, Keystone Automotive Operations, Valvoline, Matco Tools, American Racing Wheels, and so many others. At least we gave them three good rounds to cheer about today. We gained a lot of points, third place is in sight, and we still have some racing to do this year so we'll regroup and get ready for Dallas. I know it'll be great to be home in Texas."

Today's elimination rounds of the second annual Craftsman 75th Anniversary Nationals presented by Racing Champions will air from 8-10:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2, with a rebroadcast from 4-6 a.m. (ET), Wednesday, Oct. 2, also on ESPN2.

-jar-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan , Joe Hartley