ETCHELLS POISED TO DUPLICATE LAST YEAR'S RICHMOND WIN Putnam, Conn., April 17, 1998 - There is one component that can be critical to a team's success. This item cannot be purchased, ordered or fabricated, yet veteran crews and drivers ...
ETCHELLS POISED TO DUPLICATE LAST YEAR'S RICHMOND WIN
Putnam, Conn., April 17, 1998 - There is one component that can be critical to a team's success. This item cannot be purchased, ordered or fabricated, yet veteran crews and drivers acknowledge its significance, and strive to have it at all times. This elusive ingredient is confidence. Although it adds no extra horsepower or any other mechanical advantage, a confident team is more likely to perform at the level necessary to succeed. Chuck Etchells and his Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Racing team will have a slight edge in this department when they unload their Camaro Z28 Funny Car this week at Virginia Motorsports Park, for it was one year ago that they left as the winners of the Pennzoil Nationals. Secure in the knowledge that they were able to master the track and their fellow racers then, they return with their focus firmly on repeating the feat.
"With the competition as close as it is, you take any advantage you can get," said Etchells. "Returning as the defending event champions gives our team a little boost that no one else can claim. When you add that to the other improvements we've made since last year, I think we'll be right in thick of things throughout the weekend."
This year's NHRA Winston Drag Racing schedule places this event in the middle of a grueling stretch of races on three consecutive weekends. With less time than normal to prepare their cars, teams will have to rely on notes made during prior runs when installing their initial set-ups. With only four qualifying attempts in which to gather crucial information, there is no time to chase a problem. Each pass must be used to fine tune their Funny Car and obtain maximum performance. This assignment will be made slightly easier by the fact that conditions at Virginia Motorsports Park, such as the air density and coarse racing surface, are similar to those found at the Atlanta Dragway, where they raced less than five days before. Although it therefore stands to reason that those who make a strong showing in Georgia will do well in Richmond, one cannot discount a veteran crew chief's ability to learn and adapt. Mistakes can and will be corrected, with a resulting improvement in performance. With elapsed times topping and top speeds soaring, constant improvement is a necessity to remain competitive.
There is one other incentive that pushes the competitors. With the impending arrival of warmer weather, the capacity for record-setting performances, common occurrences over the last three events in all the professional categories, will start to diminish. The Richmond race is often seen as one of the final opportunities to post a big number before the summer, one last chance to make a statement to your rivals, and gain valuable points should you succeed.
"Every race on the schedule is crucial towards winning the championship, and although it's still early, these three weeks could tell a lot about a team" explained Etchells. "This Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/ Superwinch team's goal is to take our results from Atlanta and build upon them at this race. Naturally, that would mean scoring back-to-back wins at the Pennzoil Nationals, and I know we have the means to do it!"
ETCHELLS EXCERPTS: As we head into Atlanta, Etchells stands second in the Winston points standings, and is only two behind current leader Cruz Pedregon.....Chuck is looking duplicate his win at this event from a year ago.
WHAT: 94th Annual Pennzoil Nationals, the sixth of 22 events on the 1998 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series schedule.
WHEN: April 23-26, 1998
WHERE: Virginia Motorsports Park, Dinwiddie, VA
SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions start on Friday, April 24 at 3:00 p.m., with another session at 7:00 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, April 25 with two rounds at 12:00 noon and 4:00 p.m.. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 26.
TV:ESPN2 will provide live final round coverage from 4-6 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, April 26. In addition, there will be same-day coverage of qualifying from 11p.m. - 1 a.m. (EDT) on Saturday, April 25. As always, please check your local listings.