Gateway Etchells qualifying report

Etchells Racing Excerpts Final qualifying results from the 5th annual Sears Craftsman Nationals Epler maintains 14th place, while Etchells falls victim of a tiebreaker in Madison Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 Location: Gateway International ...

Etchells Racing Excerpts Final qualifying results from the 5th annual Sears Craftsman Nationals

Epler maintains 14th place, while Etchells falls victim of a tiebreaker in Madison

Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 Location: Gateway International Raceway, Madison, IL

The weather conditions during the second day of qualifying for the Sears Craftsman Nationals were completely different from those encountered on Friday, with dramatically warmer temperatures sending crew chiefs scrambling to find the proper set-up. As a result, there were relatively few changes in the qualifying order in all five of the NHRA's professional categories.

After recording a 4.956-second elapsed with his second attempt on Friday, Jim Epler was only able to muster a pair of 5-second runs in the heat on Saturday. Therefore, Epler will enter Sunday's eliminations in the 14th position, and will face Tony Pedregon in the first round.

"Last night I was disappointed with the 4.95 only because that was the one good session where the pressure is really on to make a good run, and after not making a run on Friday afternoon, we felt we left a lot on the table. Then the conditions were so different today that it wasn't even the same racetrack. Unfortunately, we dropped a cylinder this morning and had a mechanical problem tonight. Fortunately we know what happened, so we're fairly confident of getting our power back.

"Tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter, so it could be anybody's race. It's important to do well for Rug Doctor, since this is their first race back with me since 1997. There will be quite a few of their people here tomorrow, so this Etchells team would like to give them a good ride. I feel bad about what happened with Chuck on the Sunoco car - that's something we really need to get turned around. No matter what, it's really important that we do well tomorrow."

Team owner Chuck Etchells was also unable to improve on the 4.978-second elapsed time he recorded on his first attempt on Friday. Although this had placed the Sunoco/Matco Tools Camaro in the 16th and final position, Etchells suddenly found himself outside of the field when Jerry Toliver matched Etchells time to the thousandth of a second on his last attempt, as the tie was broken on the basis of Etchells having the lower top speed on his pass.

"This was a very poor performance, one that I find particularly disappointing and discouraging. Earlier in the season, we had legitimate reasons for this type of occurrence, but those are gone and we have no excuses. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror to see what it will take to avoid this in the future.

"I have not talked to anyone or looked at the computer, so I'm not sure what happened to the car, but we're not going to make excuses. Basically, we made some very bad decisions, and we have to figure out how to prevent them from reoccurring.

"I don't want to look at Ron Capps or Gary Densham, or any of the high-powered teams that also didn't make it and compare ourselves to them. What we have to do is look at the top three qualifiers and ask why we aren't up there. We can't look at other people's failures to justify our actions - we need to look at their successes, because that is what we have to have.

"I feel bad for Sunoco, Matco Tools, Chevrolet and all our sponsors, because we haven't properly shown them our appreciation for their support. Sunoco saved this team by coming on board, and we are firmly resolved to get this turned around and show them it was a good decision."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , Chuck Etchells , Gary Densham , Jerry Toliver