Reading: Team Amato Sunday summary

Team Amato wins first round before rain halts action. READING, Pa. (Sept. 15) -- A light but persistent rain delayed the action of the 18th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals several times Sunday, eventually causing NHRA officials to postpone the...

Team Amato wins first round before rain halts action.

READING, Pa. (Sept. 15) -- A light but persistent rain delayed the action of the 18th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals several times Sunday, eventually causing NHRA officials to postpone the action until Monday. Before that decision was made, Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush Top Fuel team recorded its 23rd elimination-round victory of the season when Rookie of the Year driver Darrell Russell scored a first-round defeat of Cory McClenathan.

The race was over at the starting line when McClenathan jumped the tree with a .227-second, red-light foul start. It was the third head-to-head loss in a row for McClenathan against Russell. The other two came when Russell scored holeshot wins over McClenathan en route to victories in Topeka, Kan., and Denver.

Russell would have been hard to beat anyway. He posted his quickest and fastest pass of the weekend in today's only round, tripping the top-end timers in 4.622 seconds at 319.37 mph. McClenathan, meanwhile, experienced a huge wheelstand when he hit the throttle, with his front end rising several feet off the track. When he came back to Earth he noticed the win light on in Russell's lane and clicked his car off, coasting to a 9.441 at 89.95 mph.

"The rain made this day a real trying experience for all of our 2,500 teammates who came down from Keystone Automotive Operations headquarters in Scanton," Russell said."But at least they got to see us win a round. It was an important win for us because Cory is right ahead of us in the points. Plus, it was exciting when his car pulled the wheels up like that.

"We're pumped and ready to continue this race. Our car has gotten better every round and we even earned lane choice over Andrew Cowin in the second round. The last race we won in Seattle was after a rain delay and we won it on Monday. Maybe we can do that again here. So far we're undefeated on Mondays this year!"

Russell's next opponent, Andrew Cowin, posted a 4.656 at 305.91 mph in his opening round win over Mike Smith. Cowin and Russell have raced seven times in their young careers with Russell holding a perfect 7-0 record.

Racing will resume at 10:30 a.m., Monday.

-jar-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato , Andrew Cowin , Cory McClenathan , Mike Smit