Etchells Brainerd Preview

ETCHELLS LOOKS TO REGAIN HIS BALANCE IN BRAINERD Putnam, Conn., August 14, 1998 - One of the hallmarks of the Chuck Etchells Racing team's pursuit of the 1998 Winston Championship has been their remarkable consistency. For example, Etchells...

ETCHELLS LOOKS TO REGAIN HIS BALANCE IN BRAINERD

Putnam, Conn., August 14, 1998 - One of the hallmarks of the Chuck Etchells Racing team's pursuit of the 1998 Winston Championship has been their remarkable consistency. For example, Etchells was the sole competitor in the nitro fuel classes who did not suffer a first-round defeat until the Sonoma event. In addition, Etchells' Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 has made it to the semi-finals an impressive seven times this season, with three final round appearances and two national even t titles. However, in the last two races, the team has had two uncharacteristic performances, which dropped them out of the points lead. Chuck Etchells has a theory on this situation, and is therefore fully confident that his team will return to form at this weekend's Visionaire NorthStar Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

"During the first race of the West Coast swing in Denver, we hit the wall pretty hard on the left side in the second round, which damaged the body severely" explained Etchells. "Even though my crew did their usual outstanding job and had it fixed less th an a week later, it changed things for the next two races. For one, because of where it happened on the schedule, we had less time than normal to prepare for the next event, and fixing the body took away from that. More importantly, since we had to repa ir it on the road, and not back at the shop, we added weight to the body and upset the car's balance. You couldn't tell from the outside, but it probably affected our performance. It's a testament to this team that we ran as well as we did."

Immediately after the Seattle race, the Etchells team headed back to their Lansing, Michigan shop. In addition to restoring their carbon fiber Camaro Z28 body to an as-new condition, every other component on their race car was checked for signs of wear a nd tear. Worn or damaged parts were replaced, and the shelves on the transporter restocked. With three crucial races on the horizon (namely Brainerd, the U.S. Nationals and Reading), the team knows there is no room for error, and pre-race preparations a re the first step to success. Once at the track, they must capture every qualifying point and every elimination round win they can. Fortunately, their chase resumes in Brainerd, which features a tricky racing surface that will challenge the crew chiefs, as they search for the proper combination of power and traction. Normally, this would favor an experienced team such as Etchells', and they have had their share of successes here. In addition to winning this event in 1993, Etchells has always qualified on the top half of the ladder in each of the five years he has come to this facility two hours north of Minneapolis. But the team's focus for this event is not on the past, but on the present, and its impact on the future.

"We've had a couple of weeks since our last race, and, knowing this race team, we will come out blasting in Brainerd," said Etchells. "The body will be all smoothed out, and the car will be balanced the way the General (co crew chief Tim Richards) likes it. The Camaro bodystyle should be a big advantage at this event, because the extra downforce it generates will help in the slippery sections in the middle. If it's stuck to the track, it's less likely to smoke the tires, and that will win races. The w ay we see it, we gave away a few things to our competitors at the last couple events, and it's about time for this Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch racing team to claim them back!"

ETCHELLS EXCERPTS: Etchells looks to repeat his winning performance from this event in 1993.....Etchells looks to move up from his third place in the Winston points standings.....In all five previous attempts at Brainerd, Etchells has qualified in the to p half of the field.....Etchells has won at least one round of eliminations in every year he has competed in Brainerd except one.

Fast Facts

WHAT: 17th Annual Visionaire NorthStar Nationals, the fifteenth of 22 events on the 1998 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series schedule.

WHEN: August 20-23, 1998

WHERE: Brainerd International Raceway, Brainerd, Minnesota

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions start on Friday, August 21 at 2:00 p.m., with another session at 6:00 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, August 22 with two rounds at 11:00 and 3:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 23.

TV: ESPN2 will provide two hours of live first round coverage from 11:30 a.m. (EDT) and two hours of final round coverage and race highlights on Sunday, August 23 from 8:00-10:00 p.m.. As always, please check your local listings.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Chuck Etchells , Tim Richards