Date: Sunday, March 18, 2001 Location: Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, FL Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler arrived at Gainesville Raceway prepared to do battle in the first round with John Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.. Unfortunately, Mother Nature...
Date: Sunday, March 18, 2001 Location: Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, FL
Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler arrived at Gainesville Raceway prepared to do battle in the first round with John Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.. Unfortunately, Mother Nature proved to be the top eliminator, as steady showers forced NHRA officials to postpone the final elimination of the NHRA Mac Tools Gatornationals until April 21.
Etchells' encounter against long-time friend and rival John Force was one of the marquee match-ups delayed by the foul weather. Although disappointed by the postponement, Etchells acknowledged the possible benefits for his Kendall Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Racing Team.
"In hindsight, this postponement is probably a good thing. The Kendall/Matco Camaro is obviously erratic, and the more runs we get the better we're going to get. We keep finding things in the car, I'm getting better, and the whole package is coming together. With each run, the crew's working better, and their service of the car is getting faster.
"When we come back to Gainesville, I think we're going to be a better team, we'll have a faster car, which I think works to our advantage. My emotions wanted to race John Force this morning, but my business sense and my racing experience tells me that we'll be better prepared when we come back in April. "
Teammate Jim Epler also acknowledged that the added time could also work in the favor of the Motley Crue/Matco Tools Camaro Racing Team.
"Fortunately, I've been through this quite a bit during my career in NHRA Winston Drag Racing. You never like to be rained out, but in this case, the weather was so severe I really didn't think we'd be able to run today. I think we can look at this as an opportunity for this Motley Crue/Matco Camaro team to get better before we head into eliminations. Every round counts, and I want to have as much confidence as possible going into a round against Tommy Johnson Jr., just as Chuck does going in against John Force.
"We're going to go from here to Houston and get four qualifying runs in that will allow us to learn more about our racecars, and get our guys working better together, so we can go rounds there and come back and maximize what we can get out of this race. I just feel fortunate that we both qualified and will have the opportunity to return to Gainesville and get as many points as we can. I hate to put it that way because we didn't run today, but I feel this will give us a better shot when we come back here."