Etchells Racing Excerpts Final results from the 32nd annual Matco Tools Supernationals Date: Sunday, May 20, 2001 Location: Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ Jim Epler knew he had a tough challenge entering the first round ...
Etchells Racing Excerpts
Final results from the 32nd annual Matco Tools Supernationals
Date: Sunday, May 20, 2001
Location: Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ
Jim Epler knew he had a tough challenge entering the first round of eliminations at the Matco Tools Supernationals. After qualifying 15th, he was paired against defending Funny Car champion John Force, who would also have the luxury of picking his lane. Epler knew that in order to advance to the second round, he would have to have a near perfect run.
Even before he left the Etchells Racing pit area, the crew had to overcome a problem as the body latch broke on the Toys R Us/Matco Tools Camaro body Epler was scheduled to run. Switching quickly to the Sunoco/Matco shell that Epler had used at the last two events, the team rolled to the line. Running in the less-preferred right lane, Epler left the line at virtually the same time as his opponent. However, Epler's hopes for an upset victory were quickly dashed as smoke billowing from his rear tires indicated a loss of traction, allowing his rival to drive on for the win.
"As competitive as this Funny Car division has become, there are no easy first rounds anymore, whether you're qualified first or fifteenth, so we didn't take John Force any differently than we would anyone else. Based on our information from last night, we felt we would be able to run a 4.87 or 4.88. Unfortunately, it burnt a pushrod, which caused it to fall down off the tire, where it shook and eventually smoked them. It was another case of our being bitten by a mechanical malfunction.
"I think we're close on the tune-up, so this Toys R Us/Matco Tools Camaro should go into Topeka and run well off the trailer, so we can start getting back into the top half of the field in qualifying, and get lane choice for the first round. That might have been a factor today, but the pushrod was the main reason. The bottom line is we know what happened - now its time to fix it."