Russell picking up speed in Phoenix

PHOENIX (Jan. 20) -- Reigning NHRA Rookie of the Year driver Darrell Russell finished the annual preseason National Time Trails at Phoenix's Firebird International Raceway with an impressive halftrack jaunt that ended with a 4.814-second,...

PHOENIX (Jan. 20) -- Reigning NHRA Rookie of the Year driver Darrell Russell finished the annual preseason National Time Trails at Phoenix's Firebird International Raceway with an impressive halftrack jaunt that ended with a 4.814-second, 233.68-mph mark being posted on the top-end scoreboards.

Considering Russell shut-down his 6,000-horsepower machine several hundred feet short of the final timers and the fact that his incremental times up to that point--.829 seconds at 60 feet, 2.157 seconds at 330 feet, and 3.104 seconds at halftrack^×were as competitive as anyone in attendance, the Bilstein Engine Flush crew is now convinced they have a car that can contend with the best the NHRA has to offer.

"The car accelerated so hard," Russell said. "I know if we had run it out the back we would have put a nice number up there. But we had dropped a cylinder earlier in the day and Jimmy [Walsh, crew chief] instructed me to shut it down at half-track, so we ended up with those numbers and I have to say, they're pretty darn good.

"The best news so far is that our numbers down low, from the starting line to 60 feet, continue to be much better than anyone else. That really has us fired up. In fact, the .829 I ran just now at the end of the day was our slowest elapsed time to 60 feet. I can't wait to put a full lap down and see what we come up with."

Officially, the National Time Trails ended Sunday evening but several teams, including Amato Racing, have elected to stay and continue testing. "We have a few more new parts to check out," Russell said. "So we'll do a short 330-foot hit in the morning and, if all goes well with that, then we'll stretch it out and try to make some full passes. If we can post a few solid, full passes then we'll make a decision of how much longer we'll stay here."

The POWERade Drag Racing Series begins Feb. 7-10 in Pomona, Calif., with the 42nd annual K&N Filters Winternationals.

-bef/rg-

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