Pomona: Valvoline Racing, Darrell Russell preview

Russell Defending Winternationals Winner Darrell Russell arrived at last year's NHRA Winternationals replacing a legend and left a winner in his own right. Sitting in the Valvoline/Keystone dragster for the first time, for the retired Joe Amato,...

Russell Defending Winternationals Winner

Darrell Russell arrived at last year's NHRA Winternationals replacing a legend and left a winner in his own right. Sitting in the Valvoline/Keystone dragster for the first time, for the retired Joe Amato, Russell defeated Andrew Cowin, No. 1 qualifier Doug Kalitta, Bobby Baldwin and then Mike Dunn in the finals. He became just the third driver to win his NHRA professional debut. Russell finished the season with two wins, sixth in points, and was named NHRA Rookie of the Year.

The 23-race NHRA season, with new title sponsorship from the POWERade energy drink brand of the Coca-Cola Co., begins this weekend (Feb. 7-10) at California's legendary Pomona Raceway. Defending winner Russell is back with Amato, who continues a 19-year relationship witih Valvoline as an associate sponsor, and Bilstein Engine Flush as new primary sponsor.

"When I won Pomona, everything was just a daze. I don't remember half the things that were going on," admits Russell. "It was a shock. Even today, it's just an incredible feeling and accomplishment to start my pro career like that. That's when records and history books are kind of kool because that is something that will follow you for a long, long time."

Where is the Winternationals trophy?: "The trophy is sitting on the kitchen counter right now at the house (in Hockley, Tex.) It's something I see every morning and every night, and all our friends and family come by and see it, and it's going to stay there for a long time."

Ron Krisher, eighth in points with one win a year ago, begins his fourth full Pro Stock campaign in the Eagle One Chevrolet Cavalier. Krisher has three career Pro Stock victories.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Dunn , Doug Kalitta , Andrew Cowin , Ron Krisher