Somona: Etchells final qualifying report

Heading into the fourth and final qualifying session for the Fram Autolite Nationals, Chuck Etchells faced the difficult assignment of having to bump himself into the field. After failing to complete a full-power pass on his three previous ...

Heading into the fourth and final qualifying session for the Fram Autolite Nationals, Chuck Etchells faced the difficult assignment of having to bump himself into the field. After failing to complete a full-power pass on his three previous attempts, Etchells responded with a solid 5.032-second, 298.54 mph run, placing his Sunoco/Matco Camaro 11th on Sunday's final eliminations ladder.

"Obviously, we are both excited and relieved to get the Sunoco/Matco Camaro in the show. I think our team is finally making progress both mechanically and personnel-wise To be honest, if we had been in the same situation a month ago, I'm not sure we would have come up with the run we made tonight. However, since we've increased our brain trust, we've identified a lot of problem areas that we've been working to solve.

"Terry (crew chief Manzer) learned something last night when the clutch malfunctioned, and again in this morning's session that he applied for this last run. He went into tonight's round confident that it would run a low 5.0, and it did. Now we'll turn our focus on tomorrow, and see if we can keep moving forward."

Etchells Racing teammate Jim Epler, meanwhile, steadily improved throughout qualifying, culminating in his 5.078-second, 297.22-mph effort on his final attempt, which came in the less preferred right lane. Although Epler would have preferred a higher spot in the field than the 14th position, he was nevertheless pleased with his NAPA AutoCare Centers Camaro's steady performance throughout time trials.

"The important part is that we made it down the track on every run, which was our goal. It should have run a little bit better tonight, but it made a little wiggle right at the beginning. Without that, I think we would have run a 5.05. If we can continue this positive trend and improve a little bit again tomorrow morning, we could be in good shape, although we have a very tough opponent in John Force.

"Our competitors know we're going down the track every time, and that we won't beat ourselves. I'm pretty sure we'll be in the right lane, but that's okay, because there have been some pretty good runs on that side as well, and hopefully our NAPA AutoCare Centers Camaro will add to that list tomorrow."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , John Force , Chuck Etchells