Sonoma: Darrell Russell finals summary

Russell's amazing run ends in semis. SONOMA, Calif. (August 4) -- The best run of Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell's 20-month professional career came to an end in the semifinals of the 15th annual Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals. After winning the...

Russell's amazing run ends in semis.

SONOMA, Calif. (August 4) -- The best run of Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell's 20-month professional career came to an end in the semifinals of the 15th annual Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals. After winning the last two national events on the POWERade Drag Racing Series, Russell pushed his consecutive elimination-round winning streak to 10 today at Infineon Raceway before bowing to Doug Herbert by six-thousandths of a second.

"The opportunity was there," said Russell, who posted a quicker 4.743-second run to Herbert's 4.744, but lost due to Herbert's miniscule .007-second starting line advantage. "We wanted to win, for sure, but I said coming into this race that win or lose, this has been an incredible run for our team. I think we've beaten enough good cars over the last three weeks that people now know we have a good thing going on over here."

The impressive streak by Russell and his Bilstein Engine Flush System team vaulted the 33-year-old Texan solidly into fourth place in the POWERade championship points standings. In fact, he is now just 27 points out of third.

"I could not be prouder of this team and our crew chief Wayne Dupuy," Russell said. "They give me a great car every round and I feel like I get a huge mental advantage right there. I know I have a good chance to win every time I pull up to the starting line."

Russell started today's race opposite former series champ Tony Schumacher. Coming into this event, Russell trailed Schumacher by four points for fourth place in the POWERade standings. With the position on the line in the first pairing of the day, Russell came through, posting a 4.870-second pass at 282.72 mph ahead of Schumacher's 5.013 at 264.55 mph.

In the quarterfinals, Russell faced points leader and No. 1 qualifier Larry Dixon, the only active driver with a winning record against him with an 8-2 lifetime mark. But just as he did last weekend in Seattle, Russell drove away from Dixon and took the victory with a 4.750 at 300.66 mph, well ahead of Dixon's retiring 11.403 at 87.46 mph.

"You can't win them all or it wouldn't be any fun," Dupuy said. "This was a great run for us and I don't think it's over by any stretch. The guys worked hard to get to this point and they aren't about to let up now. We'll get this Bilstein Engine Flush dragster tuned up for Brainerd (Minn.) and we'll turn Darrell loose and see if we can't start another great streak."

The elimination rounds of the 15th annual Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals will be broadcast today in primetime from 7-10 p.m. (ET), on ESPN2, with a repeat showing of the eliminations from 2:30-5:30 a.m. (ET), Tuesday, also on ESPN2.

-jar-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Larry Dixon