CONNECTICUT YANKEE ETCHELLS LOOKS FOR HOME TOWN SUPPORT IN MEMPHIS
Putnam, Conn., October 6, 1998 - Memphis Motorsports Park, site of this weekend's Pennzoil Nationals, would be the last place one would expect to find local support for Connecticut born and raised Chuck Etchells. However, throughout the weekend there will be two separate groups of fans pulling for the pilot of the Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Funny Car each time down the Tennessee quarter-mile. Ironically, these loyal followers are linked to Etchells by something other than an appreciation of his considerable driving skills. Put simply, these people know Chuck Etchells from his "other" job, that of running his engraving business. The first group will be employees from Union Engraving's Southern branch. Joining them in cheering for the white, black, red and yellow "flopper" will be some of Etchells' customers, who will make the trip from Columbus, Mississippi. It is part of an annual get-together that Etchells personally looks forward to.
"We enjoy coming to Memphis," stated Etchells. "Not only is it a great city to visit, but it gives us a chance to spend time with friends and fans that we don't see as often as we'd like. We're going to have a lot of fun, both on and off the track!"
The world's fastest quarter-milers anxiously await their return to Memphis. Last year's event was the first held in the fall, and the results speak for themselves. Track records were shattered in every division, and spectators were treated to some of the best racing seen at this facility. Many anticipate a similar display this year, as teams will have digested last year's data and adjusted accordingly. Coming off an impressive 4.951-second effort in qualifying for the rain-delayed event in Topeka, the Etchells team has shown they have the power, and plan to be in thick of the battle all weekend. Etchells is also buoyed by the positive results in previous visits to the Memphis speedplant, having qualified in the top half of the field and gaining at least one elimination round victory in six of his eight attempts.
But this weekend's event is one of two challenges facing Etchells. He is embroiled in one of the hottest championship races in the history of the Funny Car division. With the number of races remaining dwindling, there is no room for error, and the entire Etchells crew knows that every pass down the quarter-mile is pivotal. Following last week's postponement, teams are now faced with five consecutive weekends of racing. This will take its toll on man and machine, and parts could be at a premium, with little time to repair or replace them. Nevertheless, the game plan remains the same as it was at the first race in Pomona - qualify well on Friday, use Saturday to fine-tune the raceday setup, and advance as far as possible on Sunday. Trailing in the points, the pressure is on to win. Under the guidance of crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards, both veterans of several successful championship chases, the team will work as one, staying focused and giving their driver the best opportunity for victory, a luxury not lost on Etchells.
"I can approach the race confident that every person on the team is doing their job," explained Etchells. "This allows me to come to track and simply focus on my driving. We'll have a lot of friends and fans in the stands, but make no mistake - we are here to race. We have yet to reach the winner's circle in Memphis, but that's one detail this Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing team is looking to take care of this weekend!"
ETCHELLS EXCERPTS: Kendall Oil and Chuck Etchells Racing have scheduled a press conference for this Friday, October 9 between the first and second professional qualifying sessions at Memphis Motorports Park. Details of the announcement to be made were not released.....Etchells looks to move up from his third place in the Winston points standings.....Etchells has already matched his elimination round victory total from last year (27), and looks to surpass his personal best of 31, set in 1993.