Las Vegas: Etchells Racing Saturday pit notes

Etchells & Epler Excerpts Final qualifying results from the 2nd annual SummitRacing.com Nationals Lady Luck Frowns on Chuck Etchells while Jim Epler's Las Vegas title defense will start from the 14th position Date: Saturday, April 7, ...

Etchells & Epler Excerpts
Final qualifying results from the 2nd annual SummitRacing.com Nationals

Lady Luck Frowns on Chuck Etchells while Jim Epler's Las Vegas title defense will start from the 14th position

Date: Saturday, April 7, 2001
Location: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV

Rain proved to be the top story at the second day of qualifying for the SummitRacing.com Nationals. Persistent showers pelted The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway throughout the day, forcing a lengthy delay in the qualifying procedure, although the racers' patience prevailed as both sessions were completed late on Saturday evening.

Chuck Etchells' weekend in Las Vegas proved to be as unlucky as that of some of the gamblers on the strip. The constantly changing weather conditions further complicated the Etchells Racing Team's task of finding the proper set-up to tame the racetrack. As a result, Etchells' best effort of 5.197 seconds found the Kendall Oil/Matco Tools/Orleans Hotel & Casino Camaro Z28 outside the top sixteen at the completion of qualifying, snapping a string of twenty-one races in which the Putnam, CT had qualified for final eliminations.

"To say the least, this is extremely disappointing. First, we had what we thought was a successful test in Houston. We then came to Las Vegas and were finally able to get Jim's car to do exactly what we wanted out of the box, which was a nice soft, safe 4.95. We thought that gave us a good foundation to build on. Unfortunately, we never made any forward progress the rest of the weekend.

"Tonight was actually the best the Kendall/Matco Camaro had tried to run since we got here, but it wasn't enough for this racetrack. Under these killer conditions, you have to make a lot of power and get the clutch just right, or you are not going to get down the track, which is precisely what happened to us.

"I don't know what it is, but there is something definitely wrong, and it makes it tough on the team. You always feel bad for the sponsors, but they understand that you'll have your ups and downs. But the crew guys are the ones who live and breathe this all week, hundreds of hours for the few seconds we go down the racetrack. It's really tough to watch them get disappointed.

"I believe we need to take a step back and reevaluate our situation. We've been testing after almost every race, and liking what we're seeing. Unfortunately, that hasn't translated into on-track success. We have to regroup and see if the cars are mechanically correct. We'd like to believe they're not, because then it wouldn't be as much as a combination problem. However, it's unlikely that two cars would have a basic mechanical problem. Besides, we have some great guys here in Chris Forton and Kevin Butterfield, who don't miss things. We have to rethink exactly where we are right now, and how to correct the problem before we return to Gainesville."

Jim Epler's opening 4.954-second, 315.42 mph run proved to be his best, placing the Motley Crue/Matco Tools/Orleans Hotel & Casino Camaro Z28 in the 14th position and set the stage for an opening-round encounter with No. 3 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr., as Epler looks to defend his title from a year ago. Despite the team's apparent difficulties, Epler was confident that he had found the root of their problem.

"When I made my opening run on Friday afternoon, we had Vince Neil from Motley Crue watching from the starting line, and we went right down the racetrack. In subsequent runs, however, he didn't get back in position, and we didn't make it down. I think the key for tomorrow is that we get Vince back at the starting line, and everything will be just fine."

-E&E-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Chuck Etchells , Tommy Johnson Jr.