ETCHELLS AIMS TO GET A BIG PIECE OF "THE ROCK" Putnam, Conn., March 27, 1998 - Once a year, the NHRA combines with series sponsor Winston to host an event unlike any other on the schedule. Taking a break from their championship points chase,...
ETCHELLS AIMS TO GET A BIG PIECE OF "THE ROCK"
Putnam, Conn., March 27, 1998 - Once a year, the NHRA combines with series sponsor Winston to host an event unlike any other on the schedule. Taking a break from their championship points chase, the world's fastest drivers converge on the Rockingham Dragway for a high dollar, no holds barred dogfight. The victor's spoils are an incredible payoff. On Sunday evening, one Nitro Funny Car team will pocket a staggering $100,000 as the winner of the 10th annual Winston Invitational. Chuck Etchells and his Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Racing team are trying to keep things in perspective, without losing sight of the big money.
"We see this race as an opportunity to support Winston, who has done so much for the sport of NHRA drag racing," said Etchells. "In addition, the runs we make here allow us to try things on our Camaro Z28 Funny Car without the pressure of a national event. As such, the information we gather in Rockingham could be priceless down the road. But don't let anybody in this pit area fool you. Every team could use the $100,000, and we're going after it!"
But rewards of this size do not come easily. In addition to facing the challenge of their fellow competitors, the Fuel Coupe contingent must deal with a unique qualifying format, which fields only eight cars for Sunday's final eliminations, half that of a normal points-paying event. A premium is therefore placed on making each of the four qualifying runs count. This posed no problem for Chuck Etchells last year, when he grabbed the top qualifying spot and advanced to the semi-finals.
For 1998, the Etchells team heads into Rockingham on a high note, buoyed by their strong start, and poised to continue their success. With each event, the team's knowledge of their race car grows, allowing them to adapt to changing conditions more easily, and extract the most from it. The crew will also benefit from a rare weekend at home, having returned to their Lansing, Michigan base after Houston, bringing a stretch of nearly ten weeks on the road to a close. This brief respite will allow the Tim and Kim Richards-led crew to replenish themselves and their equipment, going over every inch of their Funny Car. The team transporter will be checked, and supplies restocked. Repairs or changes that could not be implemented in the field will be taken care of. Reloaded, the team will head south, ready to duplicate Etchells accomplishment in 1994, when he brought home the Winston Invitational win.
"A win in Rockingham would mean a great deal, for the prestige as well as the money," stated Etchells. "But this Kendall Oil/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch team's hallmark so far is consistency, and that remains our primary focus. Each time we take to the track, we are looking to make a strong run. If we do, the wins will follow, and this weekend is no exception."
ETCHELLS EXCERPTS: Etchells aims to duplicate upon his No. 1 qualifying effort from last year's event.....Chuck is looking improve upon his semifinal finish from a year ago, and win his second Winston Invitational, having captured his first in 1994.....Etchells' record for eliminations this year is 8-3.
WHAT: 10th Annual Winston Invitational, an annual non-points paying event, and the fifth event on the 1998 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
WHEN: April 3-5, 1998
WHERE: Rockingham Dragway, Rockingham, NC
SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions start on Friday, April 3 at 3:00 p.m., with another session at 8:00 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, April 4 with two rounds at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 5.
TV: TNN is scheduled to provide coverage, although details were not available at this time. Please check local listings.