Madison: Team Amato final qualifying summary

Team Amato focused on task at hand. ST. LOUIS (June 29) -- Success, at times, must be measured in small increments. Such is the case this weekend at the sixth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals as Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell contemplates ...

Team Amato focused on task at hand.

ST. LOUIS (June 29) -- Success, at times, must be measured in small increments. Such is the case this weekend at the sixth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals as Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell contemplates his less-than-stellar 13th-place qualifying effort in Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System Top Fuel dragster.

"We're just glad to be in the show," said Russell, who has never missed a race in his 36 professional outings. "When you see Larry Dixon, a guy who has won seven races in 10 finals this year, fail to qualify for this event it certainly puts it all into perspective. He's the points leader by a long shot and he's going home early. It's that tough out there.

"The problem here is we ran into some extremely hot temperatures and the NHRA used a different traction compound on the race track then we've used the rest of the year. It threw everyone a curve ball. But we all have to race on the same track so I'm glad that even though we didn't qualify high up the ladder, our crew chief Wayne Dupuy did learn enough during our runs that he has a real good window of what we have to do to get down the race track tomorrow. The key will be just getting down the track under power."

Russell, a 33-year-old from Houston, will try to overcome his bottom-half starting position against Doug Kalitta, against whom he has a 4-4 lifetime record. Kalitta has had one of the more consistent cars at Gateway International Raceway this weekend with a best pass of 4.754 seconds at 308.64 mph. Russell holds his destiny in his hands as Kalitta is the man directly ahead of him in the POWERade championship points.

"It makes it real simple," Russell said. "Whoever wins this race between me and Doug will be in fifth place. That's been one of our goals for awhile now but it looks like he'll be tough to get past based on the way they've been running this weekend. They really seem to have a handle on that car. Wayne seems pretty positive that he knows what to do so my confidence in this Bilstein Engine Flush System team remains sky high. We'll certainly work together and do everything we can to get a win."

Highlights of all four qualifying sessions will air from 9-11 p.m. (ET) tonight on ESPN2, with a rebroadcast from 5-7 a.m. (ET) Sunday morning, also on ESPN2. The elimination rounds will be broadcast from 8-10:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday evening on ESPN2, with a replay from 2-4 p.m. (ET), Tuesday, also on ESPN2.

-jar-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta