Chuck Etchells knew the cards were stacked against him entering Sunday's final eliminations of the NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Illinois. Coming out of the 16th position, he would be facing No. 1 qualifier Whit Bazemore, who had set a new national...
Chuck Etchells knew the cards were stacked against him entering Sunday's final eliminations of the NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Illinois. Coming out of the 16th position, he would be facing No. 1 qualifier Whit Bazemore, who had set a new national record during qualifying. In addition, he would do so without the benefit of lane choice. In order to have any chance to advance to the second round, Etchells' Sunoco/Matco Tools Camaro would have to make its best pass of the weekend. Although Etchells was able to outpace his opponent to the sixty-foot mark, an upset victory was not in the works, as his race car lost traction soon afterwards, with Bazemore using the quickest pass of the first round to claim the win.
"Obviously you have your work cut for you if you're running the car that set a new national record. Even so, you can't approach it any differently than racing any other car. As a driver, you go up there and give it 100%, and that's what I did. If I didn't think I could win, I wouldn't bother going up there.
"Going into the first round, I was hoping Terry and Larry had gotten enough data to make the right decision in the clutch area, and that we would make a nice hard run from A to B. I'm disappointed that didn't happen. I would have rather gone out and run in the 4.80's, even though we still wouldn't have won. I know we're not quite ready to run in the 4.70's, but I certainly didn't want to smoke the tires and just hand him the race. After all, you never know what could happen. All you have to do is look at the results from the first round in Top Fuel, where the No.1 qualifier was upset. The bottom line is that we'll take this and move on, hoping that we've learned something from the mistakes we made this weekend, and we get better."