Indianapolis: Etchells and Epler final qualifying report

Etchells Racing Excerpts Final Qualifying Results from the U.S. Nationals Strong start earns Etchells and Epler 15th & 14th positions at U.S. Nationals Date: Sunday, September 2, 2001 Location: Indianapolis Raceway Park, Clermont, IN Based...

Etchells Racing Excerpts
Final Qualifying Results from the U.S. Nationals

Strong start earns Etchells and Epler 15th & 14th positions at U.S. Nationals

Date: Sunday, September 2, 2001
Location: Indianapolis Raceway Park, Clermont, IN

Based on times posted in Friday's opening session, teammates Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler today qualified 15th and 14th, respectively, for Monday's final eliminations of the U.S. Nationals.

After starting out in impressive fashion with a 4.904-second, 312.86 mph, Etchells fought to get down the racetrack during the remainder of qualifying. Even so, the Putnam, CT native was optimistic about his Sunoco/Matco Tools team's ability to find the key to getting their Camaro down the track on race day.

"We race under such varying conditions here in Indy, with runs in the nighttime, early afternoon and heat of the day that it's hard to compare them. I'm thankful for the pass the Sunoco/Matco Camaro made on Friday night, because it got us in the show when several very good Funny Cars went home. The bottom line is that we get to dance in the first round on Labor Day.

"Hopefully, we've gathered a lot of valuable information, because we've tried several combinations searching for ways to run the car. We have Gary Densham in the first round, and as qualifying showed the elapsed times and top speeds were all over the map. There are very few cars that have shown they have a good, consistent handle on this race track under all conditions. I think anything can happen tomorrow. My history on hot slick tracks is pretty darn good, so I hope that's what we have tomorrow.

"The key will be getting by the first round since we run a half-hour earlier and the cooler track favors the high-powered cars. We'll have our hands full getting through that one."

Epler had hoped to improve upon his initial 4.893-second, 300.93 mph pass during one of the final four time trials. Although this proved to be his best attempt, Epler did make several solid passes down the Indiana quarter-mile, and looked forward to defending his 2000 U.S. Nationals title on Monday.

"I've got to thank Chuck for letting us test here last week, because without that test session we may not have made the show this weekend. We had hoped to improve on that 4.89 from Friday night, because we had hurt a piston during the run. We would have, except we had a mechanical problem during the other nighttime session. We did make a nice 4.92, 308 mph pass today in the heat, and then experimented with some things tonight trying to get the car to run better in the first part of the track.

"We're confident of being able to get our 35th Anniversary Camaro to run in the mid 4.80's in the first round tomorrow. We face John Force and we certainly can't underestimate him, but I think it's going to be one heck of a drag race."

-ER-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , John Force , Chuck Etchells , Gary Densham