Team Chevy Sport Compact Competitors Prepare for NHRA Richmond Meet ECOtec Cobalt Drivers Looking Forward to Traditionally Fast Venue RICHMOND, Va., April 18, 2006 - The Virginia Sport Compact Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park on April 22 -...
Team Chevy Sport Compact Competitors Prepare for NHRA Richmond Meet ECOtec Cobalt Drivers Looking Forward to Traditionally Fast Venue
RICHMOND, Va., April 18, 2006 - The Virginia Sport Compact Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park on April 22 - 23 will present the next opportunity for Team Chevy's Pro FWD tuner title contenders as the NHRA Xplod Series makes its first visit to the Old Dominion. Over the years, this venue has garnered a reputation for speed and record-breaking performances and this year's lineup of Cobalt drivers are ready to take their shot at the VMP quarter-mile.
Gary Gardella and the DuPont/Hot Hues Chevy Cobalt team is coming off a productive test session at Atco Raceway and they're hoping to apply lessons learned to their racecar this weekend at VMP.
"We didn't run any phenomenal numbers in testing but the consistency was back on the DuPont/Hot Hues Chevy Cobalt," explained Gardella. "We were taking it easy, using a small turbo and still running in the 7.90s. We just wanted to make sure the bugs were worked out of the car.
"We'll be going down to Virginia a little early, probably Thursday or Friday, to get a couple of hits in, and try a get a feel for the track. Well give the car more power and put the larger turbo on. Everything worked fine during testing and we should have a pretty strong tune-up for the racetrack - we're looking pretty good."
Gardella has experienced his share of success at VMP and also knows of its reputation for producing record-breaking numbers. Gardella's last visit to the facility in April 2005 produced a victory in the NOPI Pro 4 Cylinder category and earned him low qualifying honors.
"Every time we go to Virginia, we know it's a good racetrack and we usually do pretty good there," said Gardella. "The track is all concrete and it's always awesome. I don't know what they do but it reminds me a lot of Bandimere Speedway in the way they take such good care of it. A lot of milestones have taken place at Virginia Motorsports Park, it has a history of producing some record-breaking numbers and hopefully we can follow up and do the same thing.
"The consistency is back with the car and that's what counts - our confidence is back. We all left the track at Atco last Wednesday with smiles on our faces. We are really happy. Everything is good to go and we're excited about going to Virginia. Everyone's confidence level is up."
With 14 career victories and 22 final rounds to his credit, Marty Ladwig is working toward his first win as a car owner/driver. After the strong performance by his ECOtec-powered Lucas Oil Chevy Cobalt at the season's opening event at West Palm Beach (Fla.), the two-time NHRA Sport Compact champion (2003-04) sees improvements with his car with each pass down the racetrack.
"Being a team owner this year is a lot of fun and the kind of challenge, if you're a racer, that you really enjoy," said Ladwig. "It's a bigger deal and a higher profile, but half the fun for me is working on the car and getting everything together. I've always been into the mechanical side of racing, and this year it's been more work, but it's been more satisfying. I'm up early every morning and I go work on the car. For a racer you could not ask for anything more than that.
"We had a good outing at West Palm, and in one aspect I was happy to be able to have everything in place to race - that was the main goal. We got some points, although I wished we would've had a better result, but we now know that the potential is there for this Chevy Cobalt to do really well. We recently took delivery of some new transmissions from GM, and they're an improved version that will be able to handle the additional horsepower we're making."
Although he's very familiar with Virginia Motorsports Park it will be Ladwig's first return to this track since his days drag racing motorcycles.
"They've made quite a few improvements to the track so it should be very fast," said Ladwig. "My main goal this weekend is to build on what we learned at West Palm and have an overall better outing, put up some decent numbers and win some rounds. Being familiar with the package and driving the car in testing, I know we have a combination that is good enough to win. Every time we race we're going to be better than the time before, and each time out we're looking forward to showcasing those improvements."
It hasn't taken long for Bryan Jimenez to get comfortable in his ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt. The consistent performance of his racecar at West Palm Beach (Fla.) allowed Jimenez to advance to his second career final round, and combining horsepower with consistency, the Houston, Tex., resident rolled to career-best performance numbers in elapsed time and speed running 8.073 seconds at 181.34 mph.
"This ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt is about as smooth a racecar as you'd ever want to race," said Jimenez. "For as little time in the racecar that we've had, 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 racetrack. I'm certain we're going to go faster, the motor is running strong and the capabilities of this new racecar are really starting to show."
Television coverage of the NHRA Virginia NHRA Sport Compact Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, May 7, beginning at 12:30 p.m.