Erica Nocita Scores First Quick-16 Victory At Moroso Motorsports Park First Win For Chevy Cobalt Phase5 Driver In Competitive Sport Compact Category JUPITER, Fla., April 2, 2006 - If California native Erica Nocita was going to fly all the way...
Erica Nocita Scores First Quick-16 Victory At Moroso Motorsports Park
First Win For Chevy Cobalt Phase5 Driver In Competitive Sport Compact Category
JUPITER, Fla., April 2, 2006 - If California native Erica Nocita was going to fly all the way across the continent to compete in her first NHRA Quick 16 race, she was certainly going to make the most of the opportunity. The 22-year-old driver of the Cobalt Phase5 advanced to the winner's circle today in her very first race in the ultra-competitive category at the Nitto Sport Compact Nationals at Moroso Motorsports Park. It was an impressive victory that demonstrated savvy driving skill, and the reliability and consistency of her ECOtec-powered Chevrolet.
"This totally made the trip worthwhile, but it also makes it much more enjoyable when you're racing good people," said Nocita.
Nocita entered today's eliminator with her Cobalt Phase5 qualified in the No. 10 position. She defeated Robert Santana in round one, Junior Espinal in round two and Louis Rodriguez in round three before squaring up with Miguel Forty in the finals. Nocita's Cobalt Phase5 posted strong laps in the first three sessions of the eliminator with a 12.213 e.t. in the first heat, 12.044 e.t. in the second heat and a 12.270 second run in the semifinals. But Nocita saved her best run for last, and in the finals against Forty, the ECOtec-powered Cobalt Phase stopped the timers in 11.493 seconds at a speed of 116.45 mph. Forty fouled at the starting line with a red light.
"Our Chevy Cobalt Phase performed flawlessly," said Nocita. "It's really neat to win this close to Jacksonville since that it is where Chicago Title is located. It's great that we were able to get a Florida win for them. All of our sponsors, I can't thank enough; General Motors, Roush Performance, Sierra Chevrolet, Dalcorp Racing and Gardella Racing. We wouldn't have been here if not for them. It feels amazing to give something back since they've been doing so much for us. This is unbelievable. The NHRA Quick 16 is such a tough category and the guys we raced this last round were so amazing, they were giving us tips. This Chevy Cobalt Phase5 pulled us through."
The consistent performance of his ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt allowed Bryan Jimenez to advance to his second career final round before losing to 2005 Xplod series champion Ed Bergenholtz in the championship heat of Pro FWD. Combining horsepower with consistency, Jimenez' Chevy Cobalt came into today's eliminator qualified in the No. 2 slot after posting career-best performance numbers in both elapsed time and top speed with an 8.073 second lap at 181.34 mph.
"We missed the No. 1 spot by just four hundredths of a second," said Jimenez. "This ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt is about as smooth a racecar as you'd ever want to race. For as little time in the racecar we've come a long way pretty fast, and with the way things have progressed, I feel more and more comfortable in the car every time we make a run down the race track. I'm certain we're going to go faster - we're going to do it.
"The 8.07 e.t. felt like a tremendous run - I thought the No. 1 spot was ours. I was hoping, waiting for the guys to get down to the end of the track, and when they did, they told me I had missed it by just a little bit. The motor is running strong and the capabilities of this new racecar are really starting to show."
In round one of eliminations, Jimenez snared lane choice with an 8.17 elapsed time at 180.18 mph to defeat fellow Chevy Cobalt driver Gary Gardella. The win over Gardella enabled Jimenez to advance to his first final round since last year's Englishtown event where he was runner-up to Ron Lummus in the NHRA Hot Rod category. In today's finals against the Mazda of Ed Bergenholtz, Jimenez' fouled with a red light at the starting line.
Gary Gardella started raceday in the No. 3 position putting up good numbers in the final qualifying session with an 8.180 e.t. at 173.77 mph.
"I think we finally got the car figured out," said Gardella. "It went from A to B without doing anything unpredictable and that certainly will give us something to build on as we get ready for Richmond. We have some good data on the racecar, and just like a good hitter in baseball, we're going through a little slump that we're beginning to come out of. I'm confident that we'll get back into the swing of things."
Marty Ladwig qualified his Lucas Oil Chevy Cobalt in the No. 4 position. It was Ladwig's first appearance as an owner/driver and an auspicious beginning for the two-time NHRA Sport Compact champion.
"My first run, the car ran good, launched hard, and we were just trying to make sure everything on the car was okay, so I let off at about the 330-foot marker," explained Ladwig. "I'm very happy with the way the car worked and there's no doubt that this Cobalt is going to be a strong running racecar. This is the first year doing this on our own so I'm happy just to be able to be out here doing this. We have Lucas Oil on as a new sponsor on the racecar, and I want to thank GM and Chevrolet for the opportunity to run this brand-new car.
"The main thing with front-wheel-drive drag racing is to be consistent, and that's what it will take to win the championship. When you're looking long-term with that as your goal your focus is to be quick, but more important, be consistent and get down the racetrack."