CLUTCH STRIPS ETCHELLS OF SHOT AT VICTORY IN TEXAS Ennis, Texas, October 25, 1998 - Frustration is an emotion that arises from many situations. Some people get frustrated at work, while others feel the same about their personal relationships.
CLUTCH STRIPS ETCHELLS OF SHOT AT VICTORY IN TEXAS
Ennis, Texas, October 25, 1998 - Frustration is an emotion that arises from many situations. Some people get frustrated at work, while others feel the same about their personal relationships. The source of this feeling can be something as simple as having to wait in line. However there is no scenario that produces this sentiment more than having an outcome decided by something completely out of one's control. Therefore, one could easily predict the mood in the Chuck Etchells team pit following the second round of eliminations at this past weekend's NHRA Revell Nationals at the Texas Motorplex.
After qualifying third, the Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro pilot used his driving skills in the first round, efficiently pedaling his mount to regain traction and defeat number fourteen qualifier Jim Epler. In addition, his 5.03-second elapsed time was good enough to gain Etchells lane choice for his second round encounter with Whit Bazemore. After his opponent gained a slight advantage at the start, Etchells reeled in him and took the lead at half-track. However, Etchells' car was suddenly slowed due to malfunction in the clutch, ending his day and stalling his drive for a third 1998 win.
"Whit (Bazemore) had a slightly better leave, and in the beginning I was able to see him out of the corner of my eye," explained Etchells afterwards. "But just before we reached the half-track cones, I could no longer see him, which makes me pretty sure we were ahead. Then, all of a sudden, the motor's revs started climbing, but the car was slowing down, so I knew there was a problem with the clutch. I stayed in it as long as I could, trying to stay with him, but I had to click it off early to keep it in one piece. After we took it apart in the pits, we found that one of our clutch discs had some bad metal in the middle, which stripped all the teeth out of the hub. Basically, it turned a four-clutch pack into a three, and we were done. What's frustrating is that we've had bad clutch discs cost us at least two races this season."
The drag racing contingent knew that the unseasonably cool temperatures that greeted them upon their arrival in the Lone Star State offered the potential for record numbers, and the lightning-fast concrete surface of the Texas Motorplex did not disappoint. Throughout qualifying, national records fell in Top Fuel and Pro Stock, with John Force posting the quickest elapsed time in Funny Car history. As expected, the Etchells entry was in the fight from the start. After posting the quickest E.T. in the opening stanza on Friday, co-crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards searched for the right combination to take full advantage of the conditions. After two runs fell short of bettering their initial time, they staged for the final qualifying session on Saturday afternoon. The result was Etchells' quickest pass of his career, an impressive 4.848-second run which bettered his previous mark by almost five hundredths of a second. In addition to garnering the third qualifying spot, it boosted the team' spirits heading into eliminations.
"Qualifying showed we have one of the fastest cars out there," said Etchells, "which makes it even harder to leave without the winner's trophy. Quite simply, all the preparation and talent can't always overcome a faulty part or simple bad luck, both of which have dogged us this year. But this team refuses to dwell on the negative. We know what we're capable of, and our car is as strong as it has been all year. We'll put today behind us, and head to Houston, where we'll do our best to put the Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Funny Car back in the winner's circle where it belongs!"
Sunday's final round saw John Force move closer to his eighth championship when he defeated Dean Skuza for his third win of the season. The NHRA finally concludes its stretch of five consecutive weekends of racing in Houston next weekend with the running of the Matco Tools Supernationals at Houston Raceway Park on October 29 - November 1.
Funny Car Points Standings: 1. J. Force - 1513, 2. R. Capps - 1423, 3. Chuck Etchells - 1283, 4. Cruz Pedregon - 1269, 5. W. Bazemore - 1150, 6. T. Pedregon - 1147, 7. D. Skuza - 1076, 8. T. Wilkerson - 1054, 9. A. Hofmann - 978, 10. D. Worsham - 864.
Big Bud Shootout Points: 1. C. Pedregon - 650, 2. J. Force - 640, 3. R. Capps - 595, 4.(t) Chuck Etchells - 575, 4.(t) W. Bazemore - 305, 6. T. Pedregon - 535, 7. D. Skuza - 520, 8. T. Wilkerson - 515, 9. A. Hofmann - 480, 10. D. Worsham - 460.