Seattle: Darrell Russell Saturday summary

Russell's car remains one of the quickest in the land. SEATTLE (July 27) -- Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell, drag racing's most recent winner, continued his impressive performances of late by matching his career-best qualifying effort today at...

Russell's car remains one of the quickest in the land.

SEATTLE (July 27) -- Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell, drag racing's most recent winner, continued his impressive performances of late by matching his career-best qualifying effort today at Pacific Raceways. The 33-year-old Texan posted a 4.585-second pass at 313.80 mph in Joe Amato's Bilstein Engine Flush System dragster and will begin his campaign for the title of the 15th annual Northwest Nationals from the No. 2 position.

Riding crew chief Wayne Dupuy's expert tune-up, Russell came within two-thousandths of a second of taking his first Low Qualifier honor. Instead, the award and the $4,000 Budweiser bonus went to legend Kenny Bernstein, who had a 4.583-second clocking.

"Everyone wants to be the No. 1 qualifier," said Russell, who has qualified in fourth place or higher at five of the last six races. "But I'd rather win the race any day. It'll be exciting when we finally get a pole. I know it's a goal Wayne and the crew has so it will be cool to get one for them. Still, our focus is on winning, not qualifying No. 1.

"We came in here wanting to nip away at the POWERade championship points standings. Our win last weekend in Denver really helped us close the gap on the guys ahead of us and it would be great to gain another round or two on them here. Qualifying No. 2 helps a little and certainly the car's shown it's capable of going rounds. The crew worked late changing the clutch and, by the looks of it, their hard work really paid off."

Currently fifth in the points, Russell will face No. 15 qualifier Don Sosenka in Sunday's opening round of sudden-death eliminations. Sosenka's best pass of the weekend showed a 5.595 at 178.45 mph, well off the mark set by Russell and Dupuy.

"I wasn't sure what we would run to be honest with you," Dupuy said of his driver's run of record. "We put a new blower on the car and we did make some big clutch changes for this race track. I thought if it held together we'd be around 4.59 so things pretty much went as planned. We're happy, for the time being, but the real work hasn't started yet."

ESPN will provide highlights of all the qualifying action from the 15th annual Northwest Nationals from 8-10 p.m. (ET) today. Sunday's eliminations shift to ESPN2 with coverage running from 8-10 p.m. (ET). A repeat showing of the eliminations airs from 4-6 a.m. (ET) Tuesday, also on ESPN2.

-jar-

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Series NHRA