MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES GAINESVILLE RACEWAY Saturday, March 14, 1998 FUNNY CAR CAMARO Z28 FUNNY CAR DRIVERS STILL 1-2 IN WINSTON POINTS -- CAPPS HOLDS ON TO LEAD WITH 262, ETCHELLS IS SECOND WITH 246 CHUCK...
MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES GAINESVILLE RACEWAY Saturday, March 14, 1998
CAMARO Z28 FUNNY CAR DRIVERS STILL 1-2 IN WINSTON POINTS -- CAPPS HOLDS ON TO LEAD WITH 262, ETCHELLS IS SECOND WITH 246
CHUCK ETCHELLS, KENDALL/MA MA ROSA'S PIZZA/SUPERWINCH CAMARO Z28, smoked the tires and was defeated by Cruz Pedregon in the semi-finals (12.59/78.96 to Pedregon's 4.88/304.98). "We went out and made the run of our life when we went 4.89 in the second round (defeating Randy Anderson). And we lost lane choice to someone who ran 4.88 (Cruz Pedregon). It's almost unbelievable. The right lane wasn't as good, there were some bald spots. Obviously we had to run better than a 4.88 to win. We thought we had it. If we would have run better than a 4.87 with a 3, that would have been an MBNA national record, and we would have taken the 50 grand out of Cruz's pocket. You can't get upset with someone who sets records to beat you. I'm not disappointed at all. I'm not unhappy with the weekend, we're earning valuable points towards the championship. We'll just have to avoid first-round losses the rest of the year and the DNQs. If you do that you stand a chance of winning the title." ON THE '98 CAMARO BODY: "It's wonderful. It's the best move I ever made." ON ADAPTING TO THE NEW BODY: "I have driven so many years that to me it's just a great car to drive because I can see so much better. I don't have a hard time getting used to seeing better."
KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, lost on a holeshot advantage in the semi-finals to Jim Yates (6.943/199.91 for Johnson, 6.946/198.19 for Yates). Johnson's reaction time was .468, Yates' .445. "(We made it to the) first round (at Pomona), second round in Phoenix, and third round here. Houston (next weekend) might be our lucky charm. We spun the tires terribly at the start. It was awful, awful, awful. We didn't get a good reaction time because of that. It wasn't bad. It was a .46, which is about average. We just got beat. There's a couple of hundredths left in the Camaro, which would have gotten the win. The new body is still throwing us a curve. It's getting better though. We're sneaking up on it."
ON YOUR FIRST 200 MPH RUN (in the first round, 200.13): "That was the same number that dad (Warren Johnson) ran when he ran his first 200 mph in Virginia (Richmond in '97). We're both in the 200-mph club with the same number. That was the highlight of the day, I guess you'd say."
Note: Only three Pro Stock drivers have hit the 200 mph mark in NHRA event history: Kurt Johnson, Warren Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Team Chevrolet driver LARRY DIXON, MILLER LITE TOP FUEL DRAGSTER, makes into the finals, with a 4.89/289.57 against Bruce Sarver's 5.92/151.10 in the semi-finals.