As expected, the first day of qualifying at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals found teams struggling to find the right set-up to tame the unique conditions found at Bandimere Speedway. By the evening session, however, the world's best ...
As expected, the first day of qualifying at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals found teams struggling to find the right set-up to tame the unique conditions found at Bandimere Speedway. By the evening session, however, the world's best quarter-milers seemed to have found the right combination, as the "fuel coupes" had one of the quickest qualifying sessions ever on the mountain. Etchells Racing teammates Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler
After losing traction midway through his first attempt, Etchells looked to move up from the twelfth position on his second run. Running early in the order, the Putnam, CT native responded with a solid 5.072-second, 301.13 mph effort, which was good enough to place the Sunoco/Matco Tools Camaro 8th midway through qualifying.
"That was exactly what we were trying to do. The last thing we could afford to do was to go out with an aggressive set-up trying to run a number that we're not sure we can run right now, smoke the tires and waste the pass. We were looking to go from A to B, record a respectable time, and tune it up from there. We did that, and we're pleased with it.
"Both cars went down the racetrack, and since they were set up differently, we'll have a lot of valuable information. We'll try to pick things up for tomorrow, and although the top spot may be set, I think we'll be able to run either a high 4.90 or a low 5.0, and give ourselves something to race with on Sunday."
As his team owner alluded, Epler also made a full-power pass on Friday night, with resultant 5.125-second, 288.15 mph attempt placing his United Car Care/Matco Tools Camaro 12th. However, Epler looked for improvement on Saturday as recently-hired crew chief Roland Leong became more familiar with the race car.
"You see so many 4.90 runs, you get excited. We knew the racetrack was there, but Roland (crew chief Leong) simply doesn't have enough runs with this car and combination. He was trying something and therefore the tune-up was a little different than what Terry had in Chuck's car. Although we would have like to run better, the main thing is we are consistently going doing the track, and that's our primary goal.. We still have two runs tomorrow to tune our United Car Care/Matco Camaro up, and the prospects of being able to do that have me pretty excited."