The Etchells Racing team's tireless efforts to rebuild their Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 paid off in Friday's second qualifying session for the Castrol Nationals in Ennis, Texas. Driving a Funny Car assembled from a...
The Etchells Racing team's tireless efforts to rebuild their Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 paid off in Friday's second qualifying session for the Castrol Nationals in Ennis, Texas. Driving a Funny Car assembled from a combination of 1999 and 2000 components, Whit Bazemore blasted down the Texas Motorplex quarter-mile in 4.887 seconds with a top speed of 310.34 mph. This placed the Etchells entry on top of the Funny Car field halfway through time trials with two more sessions remaining on Saturday.
"Tonight's conditions were pretty good - probably the best we will see here this weekend given the heat. When it's this hot, it's hard to run the cars under the new rules. In the past, we would add percentage (of nitromethane) when it was this humid, but we don't have that option anymore. The track was tricky in the first session, but we knew it would be good tonight.
"We were afraid of shaking the tires, but fortunately, it didn't. The Kendall/Matco Camaro just whistled right down there, and I knew it that was a good run. It got a little loose at the top end, because the steering is a little different from the last car, so we might have been able to go 4.87 if it had gone dead straight. We weren't worried about using this car, because we had been successful with it last year. When we won in Sonoma, we nicknamed it Carla, and tonight was just like going on a nice Friday night date with an old girlfriend. It just doesn't get much better.
"But this one is for the crew at Etchells Racing. After everything we went through in the last week including having to switch to a different chassis overnight, running that 4.88 was just a tremendous effort on their part, and I'm really happy for them. We know we have two more qualifying runs left, but we're going to take tonight's run and enjoy it."
Ever since suffering a blown tire in their second qualifying run in Englishtown, the Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Racing team has been working non-stop to be prepared for this weekend's event. Today's first qualifying session (where Bazemore placed 8th with an elapsed time of 5.324 seconds and a top speed of 223.60 mph) was the first pass for this racecar in its current configuration. Listed below are some points about the car and team's efforts to get it here.
* The team worked until 3:30 a.m. last Saturday preparing their back-up car for Sunday's action in New Jersey. However, when rain washed out final eliminations, they immediately packed up and headed back to their shop in Lansing, MI to drop off the damaged chassis and pick up another to use as a back-up. This unplanned detour added 400 miles to the 1,600 mile trip from Englishtown to Ennis. * The Camaro Z28 body being used this weekend is the same one the Kendall/Matco team raced in the first seven races of the season. The body damaged beyond repair in Englishtown was brand-new, with only one run on it before the incident. * The chassis is the same unit raced with considerable success throughout the 1999 season. In 23 races, it appeared in 5 final rounds, winning in Sonoma, was the top qualifier 3 times, and finished 3rd in the Winston points standings. * In order to bring the car up to this year's technology, many components were switched over from the damaged frame, from the computer, fuel system and clutch management system all the way down to the driver's seat belts. * The "new" back-up car consists of a 1999 Camaro body with a chassis that last saw action in 1998 with team owner Chuck Etchells at the controls. The team has also spent substantial time on this car, bringing its technology up-to-date. For example, the fuel tank from the 2000 car was installed to ensure the new body would fit, if necessary.