ETCHELLS POISED TO REMOUNT HIS CHAMPIONSHIP CHARGE IN READING Putnam, Conn., September 10, 1998 - In every competitive sport there comes a time when participants must face the prospect of delivering on their potential to win or face elimination...
ETCHELLS POISED TO REMOUNT HIS CHAMPIONSHIP CHARGE IN READING
Putnam, Conn., September 10, 1998 - In every competitive sport there comes a time when participants must face the prospect of delivering on their potential to win or face elimination from contention, whether it be for that particular event or the series championship. This period has several descriptive labels, such as "gut check" or "crunch" time. Chuck Etchells and the Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 Racing team are rapidly approaching this point in their pursuit of the 1998 Winston Drag Racing Funny Car crown. Although over a quarter of the season remains, they realize they must take full advantage of every point-scoring opportunity in the remaining six races if they are to capture their first NHRA championship. And, as they have done all season, Etchells crew is prepared to tackle this challenge head-on, starting with next weekend's Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania.
"We are well aware of our position in the championship chase," stated Etchells. "We've lost a little ground in the last few races to John (Force) and Ron (Capps), but there is still plenty of racing left, and we are far from finished. We have won at three of the six tracks we're going to. Our focus is to win those races again, starting with Reading this weekend!"
A quick glance at Etchells' past accomplishments at Maple Grove Raceway shows that his positive convictions are well-founded. Twice in the last three years, Etchells has advanced to the final round in Reading, with his opponent each time being old friend and rival John Force. Each driver has claimed one win in these encounters, with Etchells emerging victorious in 1995. In addition, Etchells has been the top qualifier twice and currently holds the track record in both elapsed time (4.982 seconds) and top speed (309.91 miles-per-hour). As a result, Etchells' crew will have an added level of confidence as the teams arrive at the Pennsylvania quarter-mile on Thursday. But they know it will take more than attitude to continue this trend of strong showings. Prepared as always, the team has bolstered their already strong arsenal with additional power under their fuel coupe's carbon-fiber body.
"The performance numbers from our test session and the first round at Indy have shown conclusively that the General and Kim (Co-crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards) have been able to find a way to make some extra horsepower," declared Etchells. "Without a doubt, we are now on a performance level with the very best in the business. It couldn't come at a better time, because we'll have to use every bit of that power to put us back on top now that we're hitting the good tracks. We're now looking to back it up with an equally stellar effort at the remaining races. That's how races are won, as we've already shown this season. It's simply up to us to do it again."
Finally, as if this team needed any additional motivation, this is a hometown race for primary sponsor Kendall Oil and its parent company Sun Oil, both of which are based in nearby Philadelphia. Therefore, several high ranking officials will be in attendance, anxious to see their car perform. Just as their prescence shall bolster the team's spirits, so will it add pressure to do well. But the veteran Etchells team is well-versed in this area, and their competitive focus shall not waver. After all, they have a job to do.
"This is a very important race for the Chuck Etchells Racing team," explained Etchells. "But we're heading into Reading excited and cautiously optimistic. There are a lot of reasons to do well, starting with the run for the Winston championship. Besides, with this race being held in Kendall and Sun Oil's backyard, we'll have plenty of people cheering us on. There's no better way to reward everyone for their support than to celebrate with them on Sunday night with the Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 in the winner's circle, which is precisely what we're planning on!"
ETCHELLS EXCERPTS: Chuck Etchells looks to improve upon his runner-up finish of a year ago and win this event for the second time in his career... Etchells looks to move up from his third place in the Winston points standings.....This will be Etchells 10th appearance at this event.....Etchells hold both the elapsed time and speed records in Funny Car at Maple Grove Raceway, having set them in 1997.