ETCHELLS LOOKS TO SHINE IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN PUTNAM, CT, February 12, 1998 - For many years, people have flocked to Arizona to cure a multitude of physical ailments. The year-round warmth and low humdity have proven the perfect tonic for...
ETCHELLS LOOKS TO SHINE IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN
PUTNAM, CT, February 12, 1998 - For many years, people have flocked to Arizona to cure a multitude of physical ailments. The year-round warmth and low humdity have proven the perfect tonic for those suffering from asthma or arthritis. It is almost ironic, therefore, that the NHRA's annual visit to Phoenix for the ATSCO Nationals at Firebird International Raceway is a source of consternation for many of the competitors in the world's fastest sport. This challenging facility, which has been part of the Winston Drag Racing circuit since 1985, combines a 1,300 foot elevation with changing track conditions to force teams to dig deep in their search for maximum performance. However, with an experienced crew tuning his Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Nitro Funny Car, Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch pilot Chuck Etchells looks for his first final of the young season.
"Every pass down the quarter-mile is crucial in Phoenix," explained Etchells. "Whenever we've run here, it's turned out to be a one-lane track, so getting and keeping lane choice is critical. You need a quick car to do well here, and I know Tim and Kim (Richards, Etchells' co-crew chiefs) will have us ready right out of the box."
Since the Winternationals in Pomona, the crew has been hard at work preparing for the races ahead. With the late start dictated by the change of body styles, the Etchells team had plenty of catching up to do during the last three weeks. First, they took delivery of a second Camaro Z28 body, which then had to be mounted on a frame, bolted on the chassis, painted and decaled to match the one used in California. In addition, any and all data generated during the first race will be carefully analyzed to learn more about their new race car, with the resulting changes and/or improvements incorporated. Finally, each component will be thoroughly inspected for wear. Keep in mind, this will all be accomplished while the team remains on the road, as a return to the Lansing, Michigan shop was not feasible. This is all part of the dedication each team member has to the success of the operation.
For Chuck Etchells, the short break in the schedule was spent attending to the family engraving business and recovering from a bout with the flu. Although the ATSCO Nationals will mark the Putnam, CT native's first 1998 visit to Firebird International Raceway, several of his Funny Car rivals spent several days testing at the Phoenix quarter-mile during the off-season. But a review of their results ensured that the Etchells crew had not lost any ground. Therefore, confidence remains high.
"When the test session was held back in January, the temperatures were lower, and there were very few full power passes made in any category, so we didn't miss much,"stated Etchells. "When we get to Phoenix, we'll set the car for the conditions, fine-tune it during qualifications, and give t our best shot to put the Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 in the winner's circle on Sunday night!" -30-