Nopi: GM Racing World Finals preview

GM Racing Pre-Event/Inaugural NOPI Ohio World Finals Norwalk Raceway Park NORWALK, Ohio, Oct. 12, 2005 - It's been a breakout year that Gary Gardella always dreamed about. This weekend at the NOPI Ohio World Finals at Norwalk Raceway Park, the...

GM Racing Pre-Event/Inaugural NOPI Ohio World Finals Norwalk Raceway Park

NORWALK, Ohio, Oct. 12, 2005 - It's been a breakout year that Gary Gardella always dreamed about. This weekend at the NOPI Ohio World Finals at Norwalk Raceway Park, the Chevy Cobalt driver will be looking to put an exclamation point on a campaign that already includes the series' Pro 4 Cylinder championship, 12 combined event wins (both NDRA & NHRA) and nine victories in the NOPI Racing Series.

"That's nine out of 10 and we're running great numbers as we close out the season," said Gardella. "That's such a big accomplishment for this team, for Chevrolet, for GM Racing, and what we've been able to do this year should open people's eyes to what you can accomplish with GM Racing hardware. We were able to win the championship because the Cobalt was fast and consistent every race out, and that's because of the construction, reliability and tune-ability of the Hydra-Matic transmission and the ECOtec engine."

With a win last Sunday at the NOPI Tampa Nationals in Bradenton, Fla., the Gardella Racing team will be carrying a full season of momentum into their upcoming contest at Norwalk Raceway Park. Gardella got by Ron Lummus in a rematch of their final-round match- up race just a week prior in Englishtown (N.J.) in which Lummus' ECOtec-powered Pontiac came out on the winning side.

"At Bradenton, they certainly had the upper hand on us during qualifying," said Gardella. "They ran a 7.983 and we ran a 7.984, so we knew we were able to run good numbers there. But after we got the track figured out, we were able to find a combination that carried us through on Sunday. We only ran an 8.14 in the finals but it was enough to get the job done.

"Our crew chief, Jon Perry, is a genius when it comes to setting up this Chevy Cobalt. He goes back into the pits after every run, brings up the data, looks it over and determines what we need to do. It's his call as far as how much power we need to pull out, or how much power we need to put back in. At Bradenton, the track was a little tricky, so Jon kept pulling power out after every pass to the point we were down to just about nothing on the starting line. We dropped the car 200 rpm on the starting line and pulled out about 10 pounds of boost. We launched with practically no power and that's how we got down the racetrack. Jon just made another great decision."

Gardella will be making his first appearance at Norwalk Raceway Park. Already this season, the Ecko/Hot Hues Chevy Cobalt driver has advanced to every Pro 4 Cylinder final round and earned pole qualifying honors at eight events. Even with the 2005 championship already in hand, the race team will be going full bore toward win No. 10.

"You'll see the same consistent, steady game plan from this team that you've seen all year," said Gardella. "We won't be going to Norwalk with the thought of trying to rotate the Earth or break any records, but you never know. If the conditions are right and the car runs like it has all year, then new records are possible. I keep hearing such nice things about Norwalk that tells me we can run good numbers. We're happy with all the wins we've had this season, but we want to end up strong and continue to show people what a great car this is.

"Winning this championship is something we've been trying to achieve for the last five years. Until we came over to the GM camp, it wasn't something we were able to do. But after we got a hold of this Chevy Cobalt, our dreams came true."

The Ecko/Hot Hues Chevy Cobalt Racing team will continue working to improve their racing package during the offseason in an effort to defend their 2005 championship, and next month Gardella will take a few days off when he is to be married on Nov. 26.

"That weekend in November will be about the only time we'll be taking off," said Gardella. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Marty Ladwig and the GM Racing team will be competing this weekend in the Pro Outlaw FWD category at Norwalk Raceway Park. It will be the first time at this venue for Ladwig and his ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt, and record times and speeds are definitely a possibility.

In May at the NHRA Sport Compact Northeast Nationals in Atco (N.J.), Ladwig made drag racing history when his Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt became the first front-wheel-drive car to break the magical 200-mph barrier in a quarter-mile running an unprecedented speed of 202.02 mph in a final-round victory over Jason Hunt. And earlier this month at the NHRA Lucas Oil Sport Compact Fall Nationals at Englishtown, Ladwig's Chevrolet ran the quickest elapsed time in the history of the Pro FWD category with a time of 7.31 seconds.

"We tested at Norwalk about three or four years ago but we've never raced there," said Ladwig. "We're currently going over the car to get it ready. It's been quite an awesome experience to be able to drive this Chevy Cobalt and to be a part of a race team that was the first to go over 200 mph and to run 7.31 seconds - two of the fastest performance numbers ever recorded. When we ran 7.31, our whole focus was just winning the round - we weren't really worried about the time. When they told me what our Cobalt actually ran, that was pretty neat. It was very smooth and didn't feel that quick, but the car has always had the potential to go that quick, it was just a matter of getting everything put together to run that fast. From the times we had run the day before in qualifying we felt pretty good about posting a decent time. The quickest ever, though, was quite a thrill.

"The low e.t. and the 200 mph were very, very different runs. The 7.31 e.t. at Englishtown was a smooth launch and a straight run down the track. The 202 mph run was with a different engine tune-up with a lot of big top-end horsepower. It was more violent and difficult to drive, so you could really feel it as compared to the low e.t. lap at Englishtown. The 202 mph run felt very, very fast. It seems like with this car we've been able to do one or the other - either run low e.t. or big speed, but not both."

Already this season, Ladwig has driven his Chevrolet to three combined wins (two in NHRA and one in NDRA) with his most recent victory coming at the NOPI Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., on July, 10.

"We have a good baseline on our Chevy Cobalt and given the track conditions, we should be able to run pretty close to our best numbers every time," said Ladwig. "That's one of the good things about racing in Norwalk, it's going to be cooler this weekend, and the racetrack is very good there, so that usually means more power and great times. Racing with the teams over in the NOPI Series is a lot of fun, they'll have an enthusiastic crowd on hand, and to be honest, I look at it as another opportunity to race."

No other manufacturer is doing anything like the GM Sport Compact Performance Build Book. This book gives information on how to take the ECOtec engine from stock to 1400hp and every level in between. It also provides details on the race-prepared Hydra-Matic 4T65 transmission, which is used in applications up to 1200hp. Also included is a pictorial description of the build-up of the Cobalt Phase5 car. And, most importantly, there are lots of parts lists so that racers can know where to get parts for their own ECOtec-powered cars. The book is available for free from the GM Racing team, the GM Tuner Tour, and on-line at www.gmtunersource.com. Customers can also order books from GM Performance Parts dealers (part number 88958646).

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader since 1931. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 324,000 people around the world. It has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in 200 countries. In 2004, GM sold nearly 9 million cars and trucks globally, up 4 percent and the second-highest total in the company's history. GM's global headquarters are at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.

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