Brainerd: Etchells & Epler race the track and Mother Nature

Etchells and Epler race the track and Mother Nature to slot 9th and 6th midway through qualifying in Brainerd Date: Friday, August 17, 2001 Location: Brainerd International Raceway, Brainerd, MN Friday's opening qualifying sessions for the ...

Etchells and Epler race the track and Mother Nature to slot 9th and 6th midway through qualifying in Brainerd

Date: Friday, August 17, 2001
Location: Brainerd International Raceway, Brainerd, MN

Friday's opening qualifying sessions for the Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals produced two distinct challenges for those seeking to gain entry into Sunday's final eliminations. In the opening time trial, competitors struggled to find traction on a tricky Brainerd International Raceway surface, while in the evening run, the race was on to beat an incoming thunderstorm which would eventually cut short the day's action.

With his Camaro sporting a distinctive Cabela's Outdoor Gear/Matco Tools paint scheme, Jim Epler took advantage of the cooler nighttime temperatures to improve upon his opening effort, posting a 5.050-second elapsed time with a top speed of 302.08 mph. This placed Epler in provisional 6th position with two sessions scheduled for Saturday.

"Tonight's run was exactly what Roland (crew chief Leong) was looking for, and gives us a good baseline for tomorrow. It was important for us to make that run after dropping a cylinder early in the afternoon session. The best thing is that our Cabela's/Matco Camaro keeps going down the race track, which lets us make small adjustments and improve our performance on every run. I'm not sure what the weather will be like on Saturday, but we'll take full advantage of whatever opportunity we get."

Team owner Chuck Etchells also bettered his first attempt in Friday evening's session. Despite suffering a mechanical problem, Etchells' Sunoco/Matco Camaro was able to record a 5.191-second, 288.83 mph pass, good enough for the 9th position halfway through qualifying.

"In the first session, we went out with a very soft set-up, but the track couldn't hold it. Tonight, the track was really good, but my car dropped a cylinder about seventy or eighty feet out, which drove it towards the wall, and I basically had to fight it all the way down the track. I ended up murdering the motor and made a 5.19 pass. We're not sure what caused the problem, but we'll go over the data and see what we can do to make a good full power pass and solidify our Sunoco/Matco Camaro's place in the field."

-Etchells Racing

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Chuck Etchells