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Team Chevy's Sport Compact Contingent Heads to MIR for NOPI DC Spring Nationals Rain Postponed Atco Event to be Completed BUDDS CREEK, Md., May 15, 2007 - When Team Chevy's sport-compact contingent heads south down the Chesapeake Peninsula for...

Team Chevy's Sport Compact Contingent Heads to MIR for NOPI DC Spring Nationals
Rain Postponed Atco Event to be Completed

BUDDS CREEK, Md., May 15, 2007 - When Team Chevy's sport-compact contingent heads south down the Chesapeake Peninsula for their first appearance of the season at Maryland International Raceway, there will be a little unfinished business to settle. At the NDRA series' last event at Atco Raceway (N.J.), rain washed out most of the raceday on-track activities after one round of professional competition and completion of the event was postponed until this weekend's contest at Budds Creek.

Categories left over from Atco where Chevy Cobalts are still competing include Pro Outlaw FWD where Jason Hunt and Gary Gardella will battle in the final round, and Turbo Street, where Brian Ballard's Ecotec-powered Chevrolet has advanced to the semifinals (round three of four). The Pro Extreme class has already been decided. Don Nase Jr. won the event and captured No. 1 qualifying honors by driving the Ecotec-powered dragster to a 6.577 e.t. at 207.15 mph. Depending on Atco's results in Pro Outlaw FWD and Turbo Street, Team Chevy drivers will have the rare opportunity of attempting to win two events in one weekend.

After sweeping last year's two NDRA contests at his home track, and setting a national-record e.t. of 7.461 seconds at the first meeting, Team Chevy's Jason Hunt will readily admit that MIR is one of his favorite venues. He enters this weekend's contest in first place in the Pro Outlaw FWD standings.

"We're probably more familiar with Budds Creek than anywhere else we race," said Hunt. "This is where we all came to watch drag racing before we had the opportunity ourselves to race. We have a pretty good notebook on what the track likes and what to expect racing there this time of year."

Hunt is the two-time defending NDRA Pro Outlaw FWD champion. He's already scored a pair of wins at the season's first two completed contests at Dallas and Phoenix, and he advanced to the finals at Atco. The performance on the Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt keeps edging up and team owner Charlie Schafer thinks this weekend's event could again produce some record-breaking numbers.

"It's no secret that we've had a lot of success racing here," said Schafer. "But we always like to make sure that the car is true and steady before we really go after it, and if we can qualify solidly then we'll see what happens. We're coming off a pretty good event in Englishtown (NHRA) where the car ran great, but now you're starting to see Gary (Gardella) and Marty (Ladwig) step it up, and with that kind of competition, it's anybody's race."

Although he came up short against race winner Marty Ladwig in the semifinals at Englishtown, Gary Gardella proved that his Red Bull Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt is ready to run at the front of the pack. The New Jersey native qualified in the No. 4 spot at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park and defeated Hunt in round one with a career-best e.t. of 7.367 seconds at 198.12 mph. In round one at the NDRA contest at Atco, Gardella solidified a rematch with Hunt by defeating Bryan Jimenez with a 7.556 e.t. at 189.04 mph.

"We are starting to see just what this Chevy Cobalt can do," said Gardella. "It's still a relatively new car, and we're getting more and more runs on it so that we're beginning to learn what it likes. At Atco, and then at Englishtown, the car really stepped up, and that's because the guys on this team don't stop. This whole program is still new to us, but we're getting a handle on some of these new parts - we were a little behind at the beginning of the year, but I think we're back in business."

In Turbo Street, Brian Ballard enters the NDRA event at MIR in first place after winning the season's first two contests at Dallas and Phoenix. At Atco, the K & N Filters Chevy Cobalt driver qualified No. 1 and has advanced to the semifinals after defeating Jason Greenewalt in round one and Jonathan Edwards in round two. He's also coming off a recent win in the NHRA Quick 16 category at Englishtown and is that series' Quick-16 Eastern Division points leader. Ballard was Turbo Street runner-up at the second NDRA meet held at MIR.

"Our Chevy Cobalt is performing with the performance and consistency it takes to win in both Turbo Street and Quick 16," said Ballard. "Some success this weekend would go a long way in helping us defend our NDRA championship."

Don Nase Jr. will be looking to win his third straight contest at Maryland International Raceway in the Pro Extreme. At last year's spring event, the New Jersey native earned No. 1 qualifying honors by driving his Ecotec-powered dragster to a 6.526 e.t. at 210.14 mph. He then went onto win on raceday running as quick as 6.580 seconds at 209.23 mph. Nase came back in August for the fall event and repeated his winning performance at MIR.

The NOPI Drag Racing Series DC Spring Nationals will be held on May 19 - 20 at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, Md. Three rounds of professional qualifying will take place on Saturday, May 19, with final eliminations scheduled for Sunday, May 20.

-credit: gm racing

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