Chuck Etchells Racing Richmond Preview

BAZEMORE LOOKS TO EXTEND ETCHELLS' WINNING TRADITION IN RICHMOND Putnam, Connecticut, April 26, 1999 - The Chuck Etchells Racing team has compiled some very impressive numbers during the brief four-year history of the Pennzoil Nationals at ...


Putnam, Connecticut, April 26, 1999 - The Chuck Etchells Racing team has compiled some very impressive numbers during the brief four-year history of the Pennzoil Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. After capturing the top qualifying spot at the inaugural event in 1995, the Etchells Racing entry has taken home the winner's trophy in Funny Car each of the last two years. However, unlike previous years, when the world's quickest quarter-milers return to Richmond to contest this weekend's event, it will be Whit Bazemore and not team owner Etchells who carries the responsibility of driving the Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro Z28 in defense of their back-to-back titles.

"You can't count on the past to carry you through the future," explained Bazemore. "But it is important to realize that this Kendall team has done well historically at this race. On the other hand, I have not, so I feel really good going there with this team."

Coming into Dinwiddie, the primary concern for the fuel coupe contingent continues to be reaching and maintaining a high level of performance. Increasingly, a team's potential for success depends on making every run in under five seconds. Fully aware of this, veteran crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards have this team focused, with commitment and determination the prevalent emotions. The goal is simple: consistent, error-free performance

"This Kendall team has worked awfully hard to make sure every pass is a good one," stated Bazemore. "We were able to do so in qualifying in Dallas, making three runs that were within twelve hundredths of a second of each other, but then we fell a little short on Sunday. We're going to try to make eight strong runs this weekend in Richmond, which we'll have to do to stay in the hunt. I feel like we can. With every race, we're making progress and I believe we're going to be a lot more competitive."

There are other factors the Etchells crew must contend with besides their fellow competitors. For example, for the first time this season, the NHRA will be competing on consecutive weekends. This means that teams will have less than four days to service their race car and transporter and transverse the over 1,300 miles from Dallas to Richmond. In addition, crew chiefs and drivers alike will have to quickly change their racing mindset from the concrete strip at the Texas Motorplex and its abundant traction to the tricky asphalt at Virginia Motorsports Park. Not only will a completely different set-up be required to mantain the delicate balance necessary to effectively transfer the power to the ground, but each driver will have to take the track's performance characteristics into account during each pass. Bazemore looks forward to getting back in the Kendall Camaro quickly, but acknowledges the challenge of the compressed schedule and different tracks.

"As a driver, I like the back-to-back races," said Bazemore. "Even though it's a straight line and looks kind of easy, running a Funny Car in 4.8 seconds to over 300 miles-per-hour is an absolute handful. The more you do it the more comfortable you get. So even with ten years' experience, I still see the benefit of running the car every weekend. But it is a tremendous load on the team and its resources. Basically you have to have twice as many parts because there's no time to get anything repaired.

I expect the car to be much looser in the second half of the track this weekend, which is a big thing. Whereas the car would be planted hard and hooked up the whole run in Dallas, it's a lot more slippery and tricky at Richmond. When it's skating around it can turn on you just like that, so you have to be ready to catch it. I have to prepare myself that it's going to be loose, which will be something new for me with this Kendall Camaro, since we haven't had to run that way yet this year. But I don't see that being a problem.

Our goal for this weekend is to make good progress with the car, and improve over our last event. We'd like to have the driver and car perform as perfectly as possible and hopefully go on to win the race. That has been hard to come by this year, but we're looking to change that here this weekend."

BAZEMORE BANTER: This will be Whit's 5th appearance at Virginia Motorsports Park, where he looks to improve upon his quarter-final finish from last year....Bazemore is looking for his first win as driver of the Kendall Camaro.....Bazemore's best qualifying performance at this event is 6th, which he has accomplished twice in four previous attempts.

Fast Facts

WHAT: 4th annual Pennzoil Nationals, the sixth event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.

WHEN: April 29 - May 2, 1999

WHERE: Virginia Motorsports Park, Dinwiddie, Virginia

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions start with two sessions on Friday, April 30 at 3:30 & 7:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, May 1 with two rounds at 12 noon and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 2.

TV: The Nashville Network will air ninety minutes of final-round coverage from noon - 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 9. (All times Eastern) As always, please check your local listings

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Chuck Etchells