Qualifying for the Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals came to an end on Saturday, with the weather conditions changing for each of the four sessions. Once time trials were completed, however, Etchells Racing teammates Jim Epler and Chuck...
Qualifying for the Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals came to an end on Saturday, with the weather conditions changing for each of the four sessions. Once time trials were completed, however, Etchells Racing teammates Jim Epler and Chuck Etchells found themselves in very different circumstances.
Epler continued his string of strong qualifying runs, making three consistent passes, each one quicker than the previous one. On his final attempt on Saturday afternoon, Epler recorded an elapsed time of 4.968 seconds, with a top speed of 305.08 mph. This placed the Cabela's Outdoor Gear/Matco Tools Camaro 11th on Sunday's final eliminations ladder, and set the stage for a first round match-up with Bruce Sarver.
"Things are going according to plan for the Cabela's/Matco Camaro. We're looking to make it down the track on every run, making small adjustments and improving each time out. On tonight's pass, we would have run better than the 4.96, but we decided to scuff in a set of tires for tomorrow, which cost us about a hundredth.
"Going into raceday, we have a nice, safe set-up, so we know we are not going to beat ourselves. I'm pretty sure we'll be in right lane, which has a crown in it, making it hard to stay in the groove, so I'll need to do my job as well. We just want to keep moving forward."
Dropped cylinders continued to plague Etchells' efforts on Saturday. Although he, too, bettered his time on each run, Etchells' mechanical woes limited his Sunoco/Matco Camaro to a best pass of 5.102 seconds, which came with a top speed of 298.07 mph, falling shy of the top sixteen necessary to race on Sunday.
"On that last run, it dropped a cylinder at about 150 feet, but even without it, I'm not sure it would have gone quick enough to make the show. Naturally, the entire Sunoco/Matco Camaro team is extremely disappointed, but you can't realistically expect to qualify on one run. We came into this race with very high expectations, but never made a full pass under power.
"After the first session, where we, along with almost everybody else, smoked the tires, we dropped a cylinder on the same side of the motor on the next three runs. Apparently we have a problem in the fuel system. We're going to be testing next week to find out exactly what is wrong to prevent this problem from reoccurring.
"On the positive side, Jim's car is running well and making progress. We're going to be out here tomorrow rooting him on, and doing whatever we can to help him win."