Heading into Sunday's final eliminations of the Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals, Chuck Etchells knew he was facing another tough assignment. After qualifying 14th, not only would he would be facing No. 3 qualifier Bruce Sarver, but...
Heading into Sunday's final eliminations of the Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals, Chuck Etchells knew he was facing another tough assignment. After qualifying 14th, not only would he would be facing No. 3 qualifier Bruce Sarver, but he would be doing so without the benefit of lane choice on a track where the difference between the two sides was very noticeable.
Fortunately for Etchells, the complexion of the race turned in his favor soon after the start, when both race cars lost traction within moments of each other. As both drivers battled to regain control, Etchells called on his years of experience and found a way to reach the finish line first. Although his 5.671-second elapsed time was far from memorable, it was enough to gain Etchells his first elimination round win since Phoenix and first as the driver of the Sunoco/Matco Tools Camaro.
"That was a lot of fun. I haven't had to win a round of racing by pedaling a car since 1998, but it's the most gratifying way to win as a driver. Of course, it's easier to win when the car is outrunning everyone else, but when you out pedal someone, it sends an important message to the crew. When they see their driver working that hard to win, they know you're giving it your all, and it gives them extra motivation.
"I'm also glad to get that first round win for Sunoco. They came in and saved our team earlier this year, so today was very important. Hopefully, it's the start of a positive run."
The Etchells crew had little time to celebrate, however, as they would be facing Ron Capps in the second round, who had recorded the quickest pass in the first round. Unfortunately, any thoughts of a second upset victory quickly disappeared when one of Etchells' parachutes deployed soon after launching, while his opponent used another 4.8-second run to advance to the semi-finals.
"At first, Terry (crew chief Manzer) was distraught about the parachute coming out early, worrying that we had lost another run without even gaining any information. However, after analyzing the data, I'm pretty sure the car would not have made it down the track even without the problem.
"Our car was set up completely differently than Jim's, yet they acted the same, so we're pretty pleased with our weekend. This is probably the most positive weekend we've had since the first or second race of the year, and I think we finally have something to build on."