CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES -- CASTROL LONE STAR NATIONALS NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES TEXAS MOTORPLEX -- SATURDAY, MAY 2, 1998 FUNNY CAR CHUCK ETCHELLS, KENDALL/MAMA ROSA'S PIZZA CAMARO Z28, failed to qualify today after arriving here ...
CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES -- CASTROL LONE STAR NATIONALS NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES TEXAS MOTORPLEX -- SATURDAY, MAY 2, 1998
CHUCK ETCHELLS, KENDALL/MAMA ROSA'S PIZZA CAMARO Z28, failed to qualify today after arriving here following a win at the Pennzoil Nationals in Virginia and with the Funny Car championship points lead. The last time Chuck didn't qualify for an NHRA Winston Drag race was in the Winston Finals in 1996 in Pomona, Calif.
"I don't take this like some people do. I got a belief. It was funny, the Diamond P camera guys came over and they wanted to send a Mother's Day message from all the drivers. He (the reporter) says to me we're asking the question, we want an honest answer quickly. Of all the things your mother ever taught you what's the one thing you've learned? What do you think is the most important? The best thing that sticks in your mind is to treat others as you would like to be treated. To me that carries over to something like (what happened) today. You see people where they're having a heavyweight fight or a baseball game or anything in which they lose and they lower themselves because they don't deal with it. And I don't think you could ever be a champion or a great winner if you can't accept defeat and look it in the eye and move on. I have raced 19 years in Funny Car and I have never seen anything like this that happened today. All the numbers on th e.t. cards said at half track in the second run that it's going to be a 4.94 or 4.93 run, but the blower belt just fell off, and it didn't fall apart. And again in the third run the numbers say the Camaro is on a 4.93 or so run and it spun a tire really hard and I would have pedaled it a hair maybe, but it broke the belt. It didn't rev the motor high enough where it would have broken the belt. Tonight we softened it up, it never even spun the tire or did anything foolish and the burst panel came apart at the seams, there were no explosions or anything. We were on three great runs and those three things happened. Never saw that in 19 years. I just told my crew guys and gals, I said one of you guys did something rotten this weekend to the big guy upstairs. It wasn't me. The only way this could have happened is if the guy upstairs was mad at one of us. If you look at the upside of it, which I think you always have to, we came in here with the points lead, 31 ahead, worst case scenario someone wins the race, sets national records, we go out of here about three rounds out of first place. We worked hard to get where we are, we gave something up, but it's early in the year, why get excited about it? If we leave Pomona at the end of the year and we lose by 60 points I could then say what could have been. But you can't do that now."
RON CAPPS, COPENHAGEN CAMARO Z28, is No. 4 qualifier, setting his quickest e.t. of the weekend in the final qualifying round, 4.946 at a top speed of 301.20 mph. In the third qualifying round Capps experienced an engine failure and a fire which damaged the Camaro body. For the final run the Copenhagen Camaro crew replaced the engine and fitted the chassis with a new '98 Camaro body.
CAPPS: "It's unfortunate that Chuck is out, but it's possible we will make a good jump in points, if you look at the big picture. After we burned the body up, Roland (Leong, crew chief) had an idea of what the problem was. It was so hard for me to believe it could have been so simple and he thought he fixed this morning. We almost found it too hard to believe that what we found to be the problem could even be a problem (Ron would not elaborate as to what the 'problem' was uttering something that sounded like 'I could tell you but I'd have to kill you'). Sure enough, we replaced that part, and the Camaro went right down the track. It's a tribute to Roland and these guys. We struggled last year and lately, now that we're tied for fourth in points, we have been struggling since Atlanta. We saw the dragsters haizng their tires half track on that (final) run. But we knew that our Camaro body has never missed a beat down track with the downforce. Roland said 'don't worry about the other end, just make sure it gets down the first part of the track, then take it on down there. That's what I did and when it left, it left hard. It was moving around and it was wanting to run pretty quick, it was on a pretty good run, then at 800 or 900 feet it put a couple of cylinders out. That's why it ran only 301 (mph). It would have been a much quicker run. We're just glad to get past the first part of the track. We need to get back on the points side." ON THE FIRE IN TODAY'S FIRST RUN: "It was another classic case of the cylinder dropping at the hit of the throttle. It eventually kicked a few rods out and caught on fire. I haven't been through a good fire like that, I guess I've been baptized. It shook, kicked the rods out, caught fire, I tried to do everything that 'Snake' taught me to do when I got into trouble. I don't remember all that I was doing, it was second nature, and I did all the right stuff." ON JUMPING OUT OF THE CAR HEAD FIRST: "I'm a wrestler, I've landed harder on my wrists. I didn't know I had done that until someone told me I went out head first. I just wanted to get out, my feet were burning. We put a new Camaro body on it because the other one was burned. It wasn't visible on the outside, but it was burned on the inside and the 'fender' was soft. We changed engines and Roland made the changes that he couldn't quite believe would be causing all our problems and sure enough that was it."
KURT JOHNSON, AC DELCO CAMARO Z28, IS NO. 5 QUALIFIER, 7.024/196.72, set in the third round, today.
KURT, AFTER THE FINAL QUALIFYING ROUND: "That was an ugly race track, ugly heat. We had some clutch problems that run, we should have run about an .06 or .07. Tomorrow getting down the race track (will be tough), it's going to be hot like today. They're predicting cooler temperatures, but I won't believe it until I see it." ANY PREDICTIONS?: "We're going to try to win has hard as we can." ON CHOICE OF LANES: "We're getting down the race track, a lot of people out there are spinning and carrying on, having troubles with the bumps. We're in the show and there are a lot of fast tcars that are not in the show. As long as we have a qualifying spot we can shoot from somehwere in the top 16 on Sunday and win one of these. I've had a lot of good luck here and hopefully tomorrow if we can stay in that right lane and keep lane choice I think we can go some rounds. We don't have a perfet handle on this race track yet, but we're pretty close. I think we'll be a player tomorrow and I think we can go to the semifinals pretty easy. And with a little luck we can win two more rounds."
LARRY MORGAN, RAYBESTOS CAMARO Z28, is No. 13 qualifier, 7.057/195.82.
MORGAN: "The weather got us for one. We were also in a bad lane, the left lane. Not that it's too bad. We didn't have the clutch set up for that lane. We were fourth quickest car (that final run). It made a real good run. I think I could have probably run another 7.04 this afternoon. I think that we have been real good for this air. We are real pleased. We will go some rounds tomorrow and get this Camaro in the final, have it win a race like it did in Funny Car last week. I think tomorrow the weather will be a little cooler. The track will be a lot better and you will see the cars run closer. Let us just hope the sun shines and the good Lord is with us in our lane tomorrow. The good Lord is with us every day, it would be nice to win this race."