Team Chevy Sport Compact Racers Ready for Busy Weekend A Pair of East-Coast Events on Tap for Both NHRA and NOPI ATCO, N.J., May 16, 2006 - A pair of sport compact events are on tap for this weekend on the East Coast with representatives from...
Team Chevy Sport Compact Racers Ready for Busy Weekend
A Pair of East-Coast Events on Tap for Both NHRA and NOPI
ATCO, N.J., May 16, 2006 - A pair of sport compact events are on tap for this weekend on the East Coast with representatives from Team Chevy taking on competition in both the NHRA Sony Xplod series and the NOPI Xbox series. The NHRA will converge on Atco Raceway in Atco, N.J., for the Northeast NHRA Sport Compact Nationals on May 20-21, just a few miles south of their most recently contested event two weeks ago in Englishtown, N.J. The NOPI Series heads a little farther south to Budds Creek, Md., for the NOPI Maryland Nationals at Maryland International Raceway on May 20 - 21.
If the quarter-mile at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown is friendly confines for DuPont/Hot Hues Chevy Cobalt driver Gary Gardella, then the strip at Atco Raceway, just east of Philadelphia, serves as his home away from home. Gardella lives just a few minutes north of the Atco strip and he's had some of his most memorable moments as a drag racer at that facility. The 27-year-old resident of nearby Jackson, N.J., is a two-time NHRA winner at Atco Raceway, capturing his first national-event there in 2004 by defeating Marty Ladwig in the HOT ROD category, and then returning in 2005 to claim back-to-back victories there, one of three NHRA wins last season.
"We're beginning to find a consistent combination on our DuPont/Hot Hues Chevrolet," said Gardella. "It took awhile but we keep getting closer and closer to where we want to be. ECOtec, Hydra-Matic and all of the great GM parts on this racecar make it possible for us to do as well as we do, and we're looking forward to running strong this weekend in Atco."
Gardella is coming off a strong event in Englishtown where he ran career-best numbers in both e.t. and speed. During qualifying the DuPont/Hot Hues Chevy Cobalt posted a 7.742 second run at 184.93 mph to give Gardella his best-ever numbers. Recent testing at Atco and a familiarity with the South New Jersey strip could play into his favor.
"We tested the DuPont/Hot Hues Chevy Cobalt out at Atco prior to the race in Englishtown, and we were able to establish some consistency with the racecar," said Gardella. "We've been working with the Hydra-Matic engineers, the transmission guys, and learning how to give this car a little bit more power. From a performance and stress standpoint, we're bringing these transmissions into uncharted territory. The Hydra-Matic team has a great product to begin with, and we're working with them to make the best product we can available for the public."
Jason Hunt will enter the NOPI Maryland Nationals at Maryland International Raceway as the defending champion in the Pro Outlaw FWD category. Hunt's Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt set the NHRA national e.t. (7.519 seconds) and top speed record (194.52 mph) while competing at Englishtown two weeks ago en route to a No. 1 qualifying effort and a national-event victory.
"Every weekend that we race we have high hopes," said Hunt. "The team has worked hard and our goal was just to go rounds. We knew the Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt could run 7.50s all day long, but the main thing we wanted to do was win rounds and be competitive. It's a tough field but everyone's hard work paid off.
"MIR is one of our favorite racetracks, close to home and close to our raceshop," said the resident of Crofton, Md. "Our goal is to continue to improve from both an e.t. and top- speed perspective, but we also want to maintain that consistency we found in Englishtown. There's a fine line on how hard we can push this Chevy Cobalt and we're slowly learning this racecar so we can find where that is."
So far this year in NOPI, Hunt has been victorious at the South Georgia Nationals in Valdosta, Ga., where he ran a career-best time and speed of 7.556 seconds at 196.93 mph. At Budds Creek, Hunt will be shooting for his second victory of the season in the Pro Outlaw FWD category as he tries to defend his 2005 Xbox crown.
"We're still getting used to this car, but this Chevrolet is an awesome piece of machinery," said Hunt. "We had some bad luck in Richmond, stayed there all night, put a new motor in and then went to MIR (Maryland International Raceway) and tested. In Georgia our goal was to go from A to B with some consistency and that carried forward to this weekend. With the support of GM Racing, I'm confident we've found the combination we needed."
. The Northeast NHRA Sport Compact Nationals are scheduled for May 20 - 21 at Atco Raceway in Atco, N.J. Television coverage of the race can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, June 4, starting at 1 p.m. Eastern.
. The NOPI Maryland Nationals are scheduled for May 20 - 21 at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, Md.