Seattle: Etchells, Epler Friday notes

With the forecast calling for showers in the Seattle area on Saturday, competitors at the Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals wanted to make sure to maximize their opportunities during Friday's two qualifying sessions. A top priority for...

With the forecast calling for showers in the Seattle area on Saturday, competitors at the Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals wanted to make sure to maximize their opportunities during Friday's two qualifying sessions. A top priority for all involved was to secure a position among the top sixteen in order to ensure their participation in Sunday's final elimination should the final time trials be washed out. Although Etchells Racing teammates Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler accomplished this primary goal, their performance left them hoping for additional opportunities in which to improve their position and get a better handle on the race track.

After losing traction midway through his first attempt and posting a 5.523-second elapsed time, Etchells looked for a full power pass in the evening session. Unfortunately, his efforts were once again foiled by tire smoke, leaving the Sunoco/Matco Tools Camaro in the 14th position at the Seattle qualifying midpoint.

"Going into tonight's session, Terry had told me he had hopped it up and was going to take a shot at the top spot. I know he changed the car substantially, and went after it in a big way, but the bottom line is we didn't have enough power for the racetrack. Whatever our set-up was, between the tire pressure and clutch, we just didn't have enough to carry the car down the racetrack.

"Depending on what the weather brings for tomorrow, we're going to have to make some adjustments to get the Sunoco/Matco Camaro down the track under power. Fortunately, since Jim's car is set-up completely differently, we have plenty of information to help us find a solution."

Epler, meanwhile, looked for a successful homecoming as he returned to the track on which he started his racing career. On his first run, a dropped cylinder forced him to pedal his car several times in order to complete the pass, recording a 6.372-second elapsed time. Much like his team owner, Epler aimed to improve in his evening attempt, but was cut short by a total loss of traction, relegating the United Car Care/Matco Tools Camaro to the precarious 15th position.

"With rain forecast for tomorrow, we were worried about getting in the show today, so even though it dropped a cylinder early in the first run, I pedaled it to make sure it recorded a time, and even though it smoked the tires near the end of the run, it was enough to temporarily get us in the field.

"We figured out that it dropped a cylinder because it was too rich, so we adjusted it for tonight. Even so, we still made more power than we've ever made, and we didn't retard the timing enough, so about one second into the run we smoked the tires again.

"I'm confident that if we could go back out there now, we would go right down the racetrack. At least we're qualified going into tomorrow if it does happen to rain, and if we do get to run I'm optimistic that this United Care Care/Matco Camaro will make a good solid run and plant ourselves deep in the field."

-ER

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Chuck Etchells