Reading: Darrell Russell Saturday summary

Russell's last blast his best of the weekend READING, Pa. (Sept. 14) -- Several rain delays Saturday afternoon added an unexpected second nighttime qualifying session to the 18th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. Without question,...

Russell's last blast his best of the weekend

READING, Pa. (Sept. 14) -- Several rain delays Saturday afternoon added an unexpected second nighttime qualifying session to the 18th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. Without question, Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush Top Fuel dragster team took full advantage of the cooler temperatures and ideal conditions brought on by the storms with driver Darrell Russell posting a competitive 4.637-second pass at 314.90 mph, his best run of the weekend.

The run slots Russell 10th in the elite field of 16. He will now open Sunday's elimination racing against No. 7 qualifier Cory McClenathan, whose best run thus far showed a 4.612 at 316.82 mph on the scoreboards. Russell has a lifetime mark of two wins and one loss versus McClenathan, who is directly in front of Russell in the POWERade championship points standings in fourth place, 44 points ahead. This event's top qualifier, Tony Schumacher, is another 22 points ahead in third.

"This is the second race in a row where we have a nice chance to make another big move in the points," Russell said. "And once again we'll have our work cut out for us because we'll be starting in the bottom half of the field. The good news is we got quicker both times out today and our crew chief Wayne Dupuy and the guys seem to have this Bilstein Engine Flush dragster figured out again. We probably would be happier if we had qualified a little higher but overall this was a good day for us.

"This is a big race for the team. We're hosting 2,500 employees of Keystone Automotive Operations Sunday and we have to show them a good time. It won't be easy but it never is. All we can do is try our best and race this thing one race at a time. It sure will be nice to know we have a huge cheering section out there. Plus, this is Joe's home track so hopefully that little edge will make a difference for us and bring us a little racing luck."

ESPN2 has added an extra half-hour of coverage for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, a highlights show that will air at 2:30 a.m. (ET) Sunday morning. The focus will then shift to two-and-a-half hours of primetime coverage Sunday afternoon, which runs from 4:30-7 p.m. (ET), with a repeat showing from 3-5 a.m. (ET) on Wednesday.

-jar-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Cory McClenathan