Houston: Etchells, Epler look to solidify their standing on Saturday

Date: Friday, March 23, 2001 Location: Houston Raceway Park, Baytown, TX The first day of qualifying for the O'Reilly Nationals found the Chuck Etchells Racing Team working to find the right set-up for the Houston Raceway Park surface. However,...

Date: Friday, March 23, 2001
Location: Houston Raceway Park, Baytown, TX

The first day of qualifying for the O'Reilly Nationals found the Chuck Etchells Racing Team working to find the right set-up for the Houston Raceway Park surface. However, the day's results left both drivers focused on moving up during the final two qualifying sessions on Saturday.

Chuck Etchells opened with a solid 5.019-second, 308.07 mph effort, but was forced to shut off early on his second attempt due to severe tire shake. This left the Kendall Oil/Matco Tools Camaro 11th with two sessions remaining on Saturday.

"It's a given that you're going to jump on it for a Friday night run in the dark, especially on such a tight track. But since we'd been so far over center on the tune-up, Terry (crew chief Manzer) was being a little cautious, and the track ended up being too good for our car. As a result, it just shook like mad, and since I knew it was down on power there was no point in pedaling it to run a 5.0, because we had already done it. We knew we had to back our two cars down based on our test session in Dallas. That worked on our earlier run, but didn't on our second. We'll forget about tonight, go back to our first run and try to improve on it in the same type of conditions."

Jim Epler, meanwhile, battled to get his Motley Crue/Matco Tools down the Houston quarter-mile. Epler's opening effort was hampered by a dropped cylinder, which slowed the Phoenix, AZ resident to an elapsed time of 5.373 seconds with a top speed of 213.81 mph. His evening attempt was cut short by tire shale very reminiscent of his teammate's. This left Epler 13th halfway through qualifying, with his sights set on improving on Saturday

"On our first run, we had new tires on, so there was a little more wheel spin than the tune-up was ready for, and it dropped a cylinder. Even so, we were comfortable with the run because it was similar to Chuck's and he ran a 5.01, so we were looking to improve on it.

"However, this was our first night run, and I've had most of my No.1 qualifying shots on night runs because you have to really turn up the power. We saw Chuck go out and shake, and Terry couldn't really do anything about the power, so he turned the clutch flow up and it just wasn't enough, so it shook the tires. We'll learn from that and know what to do at night next time.

"We should be able to run a low 4.90 on the first pass, and then we'll try to sneak up on it even further in the afternoon, which will be under conditions similar to those on race day. Tonight would have been good for qualifying, but we'll just have to do it tomorrow under race conditions - we'll be okay."

-J2Racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Chuck Etchells