Friday's opening qualifying session for the U.S. Nationals was a successful one for Etchells Racing Teammates Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler, as each opened with solid runs placing them well in the field. Epler debuted a fire-engine red paint...
Friday's opening qualifying session for the U.S. Nationals was a successful one for Etchells Racing Teammates Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler, as each opened with solid runs placing them well in the field.
Epler debuted a fire-engine red paint scheme simulating the look of the limited edition 35th Anniversary Chevrolet Camaro. Running in the right lane, Epler powered down the IRP quarter-mile in 4.893 seconds with a top speed of 300.93 mph, good enough for the provisional 10th position. Although this was Epler's quickest official run since the Topeka event in May, his description of the run afterwards revealed that it could have been even better with plenty of room for further improvement.
"We had come into tonight's session fairly confident, since we had run a 4.89 in testing last week shutting off at 1000 feet. Although we matched that time, the air was better tonight, but our performance was hurt by dropping the No. 7 cylinder. Fortunately, we know how to fix it, and we should be able to run a 4.85 tomorrow without a problem. Our primary goal was to get down the track, and we did. We're getting closer with every run, and Roland (crew chief Leong) is getting ready to play some hardball, so I would be surprised if we didn't run a high 4.70 or low 4.80 sometime during the weekend.
"We're also happy to start our 35th Anniversary Camaro off on a positive note. We have a large group from the Camaro club coming out tomorrow, and we wanted to give them something to brag about. It's one of the best looking cars out there, and we want to make them all proud of it."
Team owner Etchells also had a good run, with his 4.904-second effort slotting him directly behind Epler, and included the fourth-fastest top speed in the Funny Car class at 312.86 mph. The result pleased Etchells, who immediately set his sights on moving up on Saturday.
"This is obviously the best start for the Etchells Racing team since Phoenix. We had said that we were making our way back, and I hope tonight is just the beginning of a good weekend. Since Roland came in and started tuning Jim's car, we've used different set-ups, which accelerated our learning curve.
"I know Terry (crew chief Manzer) used a tune-up that was very conservative early in the run, because we didn't want to smoke the tires. As a result, it was soft the first 200 feet, but after that it really started to pick up, and I would imagine it was one of the quickest cars from 200 to 1000 feet. It's very encouraging to have a solid 4.90 run with a set-up that would have made it down a dirt road. We now have two areas to work on in order to get our Sunoco/Matco Camaro in the low 4.80s
"Our plan for tomorrow is quite simple. We'll make a few adjustments and try to run a high 4.80 in the afternoon session, and then we'll go for the throat tomorrow night. That's a phrase I haven't been able to use in quite some time, but that's what we're shooting for."