GM Branded Cars And Engines Establish New Performance Marks At Moroso Ecotec Power Faces Off In HOT ROD Final WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., April 3, 2005 - An all-Ecotec final round in the HOT ROD category between the Pontiac Sunfire of Ron Lummus and...
GM Branded Cars And Engines Establish New Performance Marks At Moroso Ecotec Power Faces Off In HOT ROD Final
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., April 3, 2005 - An all-Ecotec final round in the HOT ROD category between the Pontiac Sunfire of Ron Lummus and the Chevy Cobalt of Gary Gardella took up just a small fraction of the lengthy GM Racing highlight reel from this weekend's third annual NHRA Southeast Sport Compact Nationals at Moroso Motorsports Park. In addition to the Ecotec shootout between Lummus and Gardella, GM-branded cars and engines reset elapsed time and top speed track records in the three professional categories in which they competed.
The most consistent overall performance of the two-day meet came from Lummus' Ecotec-powered Pontiac Sunfire. During time trials and eliminations, Lummus' Pontiac performed with the reliability and predictability of a bracket car, and during qualifying, the Garrett Turbos Sunfire rocketed to a track-record elapsed time and speed of 7.995 seconds at 182.33 mph. That gave Lummus his third consecutive No. 1 qualifying effort going back to last October's race in Englishtown, N.J. Gary Gardella's new Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt was right behind Lummus in the No. 2 position posting an 8.274 e.t. at 166.91 mph.
"We didn't expect to run as fast as we did," said Lummus. "Especially given the condition of the track and the weather on Saturday - the rain was definitely something that pushed everybody off. The Pontiac is working really well, everything is clicking, and I'm not sure how much more is left in it, but we're all very happy with the performance."
During today's eliminator, Lummus' Pontiac defeated Bryan Jimenez in round one running 8.049 seconds at 179.06 mph, and Junior Espinal in round two with an 8.071 e.t. at 175.88 mph. Meanwhile, Gardella's cherry-red Chevy Cobalt marched to the finals by defeating Mike Crawford in the first session with an 8.37 second lap at 164.80 mph, and Kenny Tran in the second round with an 8.234 e.t. at 171.78 mph.
In the title heat Gardella's Chevy Cobalt moved out front held the lead when the two cars passed the 330-foot mark, but the Ecotec-powered Pontiac went around Gardella's car just before the white finish stripe to illuminate the win light with a time of 8.119 seconds at 175.43 mph. It was Lummus first NHRA victory in 2005 and his third career win in the HOT ROD category. Gardella's Chevy Cobalt crossed the finish line with an 8.188 e.t. at 173.71 mph and earned a runner-up for the popular New Jersey native.
"This team never stops," said Lummus. "They work, and work and work, they test, and they do what it takes to win. The tune-up, the people and the fact that we have a good time is what contributes to our success."
The consistent performance of Gardella's Chevrolet was also a primary reason for his strong run this weekend. In the six runs Gardella made during time trials and eliminations, his Chevy Cobalt stayed within a narrow window of 8.188 and 8.407 seconds, with the best run coming in the finals against Lummus.
"I always want to go faster and faster, just like any racer out here," said Gardella. "Our new Chevy Cobalt has so much more potential in it - we're just easing into it. I think the weekend overall went pretty well. We took full advantage of qualifying to put together a strong tune-up for raceday and the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission responded great to some tricky track conditions we encountered yesterday. Everything performed the way it was supposed to and was where it needed to be today. Everyone on this Ecko/DuPont Hot Hues Chevy Cobalt wants to win, but we love what we do, we come out here to have fun and be competitive and that's pretty much what we accomplished this weekend."
The most impressive single run of the weekend came in the final Pro RWD qualifying session today when the twin-turbo GM High Feature V6-powered Chevy Cavalier of Matt Hartford ran the quickest, and for a short time, the fastest lap ever recorded in the category, stopping the scoring clocks with an astounding 6.554 second run at 212.71 mph. The record-setting event provided the 33-year-old Phoenix resident with his first NHRA top qualifying spot of the season.
"We elected to go back to the motor we used in Phoenix for today's final qualifying session," said Hartford. "The engine we had in yesterday was a new combination and makes quite a bit more power than the record-setting GM High-Feature V6 that we had today. We just couldn't get a proper clutch tune-up for the car. Mylon (Keasler) had the Summit Racing Chevrolet put away and on the trailer, but at midnight last night he said, 'we're putting the other motor in the car. Get the car back out, we're switching motors and we're going to come out and run a fifty (6.50 seconds).' The camp next to me will tell you, we were in the rental car ready to go back to the hotel and Mylon changed his mind, said, 'we're going back to our Phoenix combination.' It paid off.
"We were here until 3 a.m. swapping motors, and then we had the daylight savings times change so we all got about two hours of sleep. We came in this morning, made that run and it was all worth it. That's what we came here to do."
In the Pro FWD category, Jason Hunt drove his Ecotec-powered Saturn Ion to both ends of the Moroso Motorsports track record and low qualifying honors when he recorded an e.t. and speed of 7.923 seconds at 187.03 mph. Hunt advanced to the finals before losing to Ed Bergenholtz.
Marty Ladwig's Chevy Cobalt qualified in the No. 3 position but was eliminated in round one by Bergenholtz.
"The team is headed back to Detroit where they will start working on the car to get it ready for Las Vegas," said Ladwig. "Once we determine what we need from a tune-up perspective we'll spend some time testing before we arrive in Las Vegas for the national event there. This Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt has a ton of potential, and in front of the packed house that we'll have at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we want to run as fast and as quick as we can - to show everyone what this Chevrolet can really do."
Television coverage of the NHRA Southeast Sport Compact Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Thursday, April 14, beginning at 2 p.m. (ET)