GATORNATIONALS' POSTPONEMENT PUTS HISTORY ON ETCHELLS' SIDE Gainesville, Fla., March 8, 1998 - Mother Nature proved to be the toughest opponent of all this past Saturday, forcing the NHRA to postpone the last two days of the Mac Tools ...
GATORNATIONALS' POSTPONEMENT PUTS HISTORY ON ETCHELLS' SIDE
Gainesville, Fla., March 8, 1998 - Mother Nature proved to be the toughest opponent of all this past Saturday, forcing the NHRA to postpone the last two days of the Mac Tools Gatornationals. The remaining qualifying sessions have now been rescheduled for this Friday, March 13th with final eliminations set for Saturday. Chuck Etchells will return to Florida this weekend looking for history to repeat itself, as the last time a national event was delayed by weather, the Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch pilot emerged victorious at last year's Pennzoil Nationals in Richmond, Virginia. Add this to Etchells' recent win in Phoenix and the performance of his Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Funny Car so far this season, and it all points to one thing. The competition had better be ready.
"Although I would have preferred to complete the event, I have a great team, and know we can pick it up where we left off on Friday," said Etchells. "We've started off strong, and look to keep it going."
Etchells' team certainly showed no signs of slowing down during the qualifying sessions run on Friday. Displaying consistent performance, he posted two of the quicker passes in the Funny Car ranks, and his 4.965 second effort run in the afternoon earned him the provisional second position. But with two opportunities remaining on their return, no spot is safe. Compounding the challenge, any knowledge gained during the first two runs will be diminished by the rains, which will completely alter the complexion of the racing surface. In addition, with less than a full week before the Houston race, team's philosophies may change. By competing on three consecutive weekends, a premium will be placed on parts, forcing teams to be less aggressive in their set-ups. With an experienced crew backing him up, Etchells remains quietly confident.
"The long-range forecast is calling for cooler temperatures, and we could see some big numbers this weekend," explained Etchells. "But with so little time before the next race the key will be making solid runs on every pass, without hurting parts. I feel comfortable knowing Tim and Kim (Richards, his co-crew chiefs) will be setting up our Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28 for another trip to the winner's circle!"