ETCHELLS GUNNING FOR A DOUBLE IN DALLAS Putnam, Conn., April 28, 1998 - For the first time in his NHRA Funny Car career, Chuck Etchells will lead his team into a race as the leader in the Winston Drag Racing points standings. In addition, the...
ETCHELLS GUNNING FOR A DOUBLE IN DALLAS
Putnam, Conn., April 28, 1998 - For the first time in his NHRA Funny Car career, Chuck Etchells will lead his team into a race as the leader in the Winston Drag Racing points standings. In addition, the Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 pilot enters this weekend's Castrol Nationals as the most recent winner in the Funny Car ranks, having logged his second national event win of the season last weekend in Virginia. As if this was not enough to bolster the team's confidence, this event is held at the Texas Motorplex, a track where they have historically done well, including a win in 1995. To say the least, Etchells and crew can't wait to fire them up.
"The whole team is really pumped after last week," stated Etchells. "It's always exciting to come in off a win, and being the points leader just adds to it."
Prior to arriving in Dallas, however, Etchells will stop off in Oklahoma City to visit one of the Gilardi Foods' facilities that produces MaMa Rosa's Pizza. Etchells will be the guest of honor as the plant celebrates Pride Day, where Gilardi Foods expresses their appreciation to their associates for their efforts. It will be a treat for all involved, as Etchells will tour the facility and spend time signing autographs and talking racing with the Gilardi staff, who carefully track the progress of their racing team.
"This should be a lot of fun," said Etchells. "This will be my first visit to the Oklahoma City plant. I'm looking forward to meeting the people who make those delicious MaMa Rosa's Pizzas, and to thank them for their support."
Meanwhile, Etchells' team will have little time to enjoy their accomplishments, as they must quickly prepare to defend the lead they worked so hard to take. The challenge starts at the Texas Motorplex, marking the last of three consecutive weekends of competition. The Lone Star strip's all-concrete racing surface is unique among all tracks on the NHRA tour, offering tremendous traction, which is in stark contrast to the tracks on which the last three events have run. One benefit is that this extra "grip" should prevent the rash of damaged engines seen recently, which are primarily caused by excessive wheel spin. A fast track puts additional pressure on the teams' braintrusts, however as they must correctly proportion the amount of power transferred to the ground. Nor does this speed-producing potential come without cost. One of the primary perils is an extremely narrow "groove", which is the portion of the racetrack where enough rubber has put down by previous runs to maximize traction and, consequently, speed. In a high-speed version of a tightrope walk, the key to a successful run in Dallas is to keep the race car in the black, which is easily distinguished on the white cement, exception at night on Friday, when seeing the correct line becomes harder. Stray from this area, and you could be headed for the wall or over the centerline, and most likely out of the event. Nevertheless, the Etchells team remains quietly confident.
"The Texas Motorplex is a killer track, and we've been fortunate to win here before. Winning helps foster success at future events, which is a plus for us this weekend," explained Etchells. "As for the points, there is a long way to go, but this Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch team has a simple philosophy - Go in ahead and leave ahead. Anyone in the Top 5 is within striking distance, so we must be ready to dig in and defend our position. This early in the season, being in front is not crucial, but we're not about to give something we worked so hard to achieve away!"