Pomona, Calif., October 26, 2003 - The GM Racing team wrapped up its second Sport Compact championship today in the HOT ROD class with Marty Ladwig at the helm of his Ecotec powered Pontiac Sunfire in Pomona, Calif., at Pomona Raceway for the NHRA...
Pomona, Calif., October 26, 2003 - The GM Racing team wrapped up its second Sport Compact championship today in the HOT ROD class with Marty Ladwig at the helm of his Ecotec powered Pontiac Sunfire in Pomona, Calif., at Pomona Raceway for the NHRA World Finals.
Ladwig came into the event with a 114-point advantage over second place Mike Crawford. After qualifying on the pole with an elapsed time of 8.648 seconds at 167.50 mph all Ladwig had to do was break the beam in the first round of today's eliminations to wrap up the championship. But that wasn't all the team wanted to do - they wanted to win the event too. And they did. Ladwig defeated Mike Laskey, Ricky Dela Cruz, and Bruce Mortensen on his way to his sixth final round of the season.
"We started the season off excellent with three wins and then we started to struggle a little bit through the middle of the season," explained Ladwig. "But the Bothwell Motorsports/GM Racing crew stuck with it and we were able to find our combination again and stay close in the championship points race."
"It feels great to be the champion," said Ladwig. "The whole team has worked very hard for this and everyone deserves it. It's really awesome that we were able to win two championships for GM Racing with Nelson winning in PRO FWD. We're a team and we're very happy to be the HOT ROD champions."
In the final round of eliminations, Ladwig ran an elapsed time of 8.899 seconds at 162.19 mph to take the victory after Mike Crawford had problems at about half-track.
"It was kind of nice knowing that I was going to be competing with the guy that I've been fighting for a championship for all year," said Ladwig. To say the least I didn't want to lose that final round. He's a great competitor and it's been fun battling it out especially since we're both driving domestic cars."
Teammate Nelson Hoyos had quite a weekend of his own running a career best elapsed time of 8.146 seconds at 192.38 mph, becoming the first PRO FWD car to run in the 190-plus mph range. He ran his career best numbers against fellow Ecotec powered Saturn ION driver, Lisa Kubo during the last qualifying session, who ran an elapsed time of 8.046 seconds at 185.68 mph, in the quickest side-by-side PRO FWD drag race. Kubo ran an elapsed time of 8.087 second elapsed time in the first round of eliminations to back up the new national record.
Hoyos defeated Jerrold Rhodes and Ed Bergenholtz before his third final round appearance with Kubo. Hoyos had the 2-0 advantage before this event. After the semifinals, the team had to change the motor after some problems occurred. In a matter of twenty minutes the team had totally changed motors and were running up to the staging lanes for their final pass of the season. Both cars had problems but it was Kubo who got to the stripe first with an elapsed time of 8.701 seconds at 161.43 mph to Hoyos elapsed time of 9.509 seconds at 146.22 mph.
"During the semifinals we hurt the motor and we knew we didn't have a lot of time to swap motors," said Hoyos. "But as usual the team came through. The whole team stepped up to the plate and did their job. They didn't just roll over and say 'oh well.' They said 'let's get to work.' It was awesome the way they all worked together to get me up to the line to race Lisa. It was a great race, and that team is going to be a lot of fun to race next season."
"I'm thrilled with how the season ended, said Hoyos. "Sure I would've liked to have won the last race of the season, but I think we still proved a statement with our speed of 192 -plus mph and our 8.14 second elapsed time. That's nothing to look at lightly. And Kubo and her team did an excellent job this weekend. Again, the power of the Ecotec shined through with her 8.04 second national record elapsed time. And what can I say about my teammate. Marty has done an excellent job and I'm so happy that he was able to clinch the championship. It's been one heck of a year, but you can count on us being stronger than ever next season."