ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., Oct. 2, 2007 - Team Chevy's Pro FWD competitors will make their second stop this season at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park for the Sixth annual NHRA Sport Compact FallNationals on Oct. 6 - 7. After the completion of eight of...
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., Oct. 2, 2007 - Team Chevy's Pro FWD competitors will make their second stop this season at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park for the Sixth annual NHRA Sport Compact FallNationals on Oct. 6 - 7. After the completion of eight of the 10 scheduled events on the circuit, one thing is certain - an Ecotec-powered Cobalt will win the 2007 Pro FWD Xplod championship. What is yet to be determined is which one.
Only 24 points separate the three Chevy Cobalt drivers that are battling for the 2007 NHRA Pro FWD title. Jason Hunt continues to keep a tenuous grip on first place with 753 points, a position he's held since a runner-up performance at the U.S. Nationals on Sept. 3. But keeping the pressure on the points leader is Marty Ladwig, who trails Hunt by a slim 21 points, and the red-hot Gary Gardella, the winner of the last three races that has cut his deficit with first place Hunt to 24 points.
"We thought the Dallas race would kind of clarify the situation a little bit," said Hunt. "But it seems like the only thing it has done has made it more exciting. If you're a fan, great. But it puts a lot of pressure on the race teams and the crews, and you're going to have to be perfect from here on out. Our Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt keeps going to the finals, but with Gary winning like he is, the pressure keeps building for all of us - and Marty isn't going away either. This promises to be one great finish."
At the recently completed O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals in Dallas, Hunt managed to drive his Matco Tools Chevrolet to his fifth final-round appearance of 2007, and that was just enough to keep Ladwig and race-winner Gardella behind him in the points standings. Although he's never won the NHRA Sport Compact Fall Nationals, Hunt has won two of the last five NHRA events contested at Raceway Park and he's also been the No. 1 qualifier twice.
"Racing at Englishtown in October, you have to figure it's going to be fast," said Hunt. "And the track there will probably give us our last best chance to really put up some big numbers with our Matco Tools Chevrolet. At the same time, you know Marty and Gary are thinking the same thing, and regardless of what happens this weekend, I still think the last race at Pomona will determine this season's final outcome."
Marty Ladwig continues to keep the printing press busy at the NHRA national-record office. It seems that each time the Lucas Oil Chevy Cobalt stages to make a quarter-mile, the potential is there for a new elapsed-time or top-speed record. Already this year, Ladwig has reset the national e.t. record for the Pro FWD category four times, the first time in April at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, and then at the first Englishtown event in May. Ladwig again reset the e.t. record in August at Indianapolis and finally lowered it to 7.18 seconds at Dallas on Sept. 22. Ladwig has accumulated 80 bonus points for setting the national e.t. record in 2007, and adding in his two national-event wins (including earlier this season at Raceway Park) and three final-round appearances, the San Antonio resident continues to keep his championship hopes alive.
"We were pretty confident when we built this new Chevy Cobalt that the performance would be there," said Ladwig. "This has been a remarkable season for everyone on our Lucas Oil team and with the exception of a little bad luck here and there, we've done pretty well for ourselves. We are right in the thick of this championship race, and going to two venues that I'm pretty familiar with, I like my chances."
With three straight victories and five consecutive final-round appearances, Gary Gardella has done just about everything he's had to do to keep his championship hopes alive. After struggling at the beginning of the year the Red Bull Chevy Cobalt driver has scratched and clawed his way back into title contention with the hottest racecar on the circuit, and a win at his home track could push the New Jersey native into first place.
"It's been a heck of a second half to the season for us and I'm really proud of the way my guys have rallied," said Gardella following his win at Dallas. "They have done everything I've asked of them and you can see how it's starting to pay off. I really think we're going to have something for the competition at Englishtown. This is the position we wanted to be in. When we finally began to get the car straightened out we had already dug ourselves a pretty big hole, but we kept working, we didn't give up and now we have a shot at winning this thing. We are pumped up."
Team Chevy's Bryan Jimenez is hoping he can end his Pro FWD season on a high note before turning to 2008 and the acquisition of a new Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt. The Houston native was runner-up in HOT ROD at this venue in 2005 and he feels he still has something for the frontrunners.
"They certainly shouldn't take us lightly," said Jimenez. "We may not be the fastest car out there, but we know how to race at Englishtown and what kind of setup on the car the track likes. We've also been able to find some consistency here lately in our Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt, and we're running better than ever before, so we're certainly not going to let anyone intimidate us. We have nothing to lose and rounds to win. If you're pulling up to the starting line against us, you had better be ready."
-credit: gm racing