Team Chevy's Jason Hunt Captures Pro FWD Win at Northeast NHRA Sport Compact Nationals Teammate Ballard Quick 16 Runner-up in Chevy Cobalt ATCO, N.J., June 10, 2007 - Jason Hunt got on the Team Chevy train that led to the winner's circle this...
Team Chevy's Jason Hunt Captures Pro FWD Win at Northeast NHRA Sport
Teammate Ballard Quick 16 Runner-up in Chevy Cobalt
ATCO, N.J., June 10, 2007 - Jason Hunt got on the Team Chevy train that led to the winner's circle this past weekend by driving his Ecotec-powered Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt to the Pro FWD win at the Northeast NHRA Sport Compact Nationals at Atco Raceway. Hunt matched Sunday wins by Jeff Gordon in his DuPont Chevy Monte Carlo SS at the rain-shortened Pocono (Pa.) 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race and NHRA Pro Stock winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the Jegs.com Chevy Cobalt at his NHRA POWERade race at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.
The 31-year-old Hunt came into Sunday's eliminations qualified No. 1 with an elapsed time of 7.502 seconds at 193.29 mph to edge out fellow Chevy driver Gary Gardella in his Red Bull Chevy Cobalt, and both drivers held up their end of the bargain to meet in an exciting side-by-side, No. 1 vs. No. 2 final round. In the finals Hunt was able to run down Gardella with an elapsed time of 7.479 seconds at 197.88 mph to Gardella's 7.491 e.t. at 193.10 mph. It was Hunt's second win of the season matching his season-opening win at Moroso Motorsports Park in West Palm Beach, and the speed he posted in the finals was a career-best in NHRA competition.
"I know that I'm a race fan and front wheel drive is exciting to race, but the fans had to be excited watching me and Gary battle each other," Hunt said. "Having Matco behind us to race, and also GM behind us along with Marty (Ladwig), Gary (Gardella), and Bryan (Jimenez) is great. I'm glad the weekend was good to us. This now makes the points chase exciting. Our Borg Warner turbo system helped with that (fast) mph."
Gardella, a resident of nearby Howell, N.J., seems to feel right at home here at Atco Raceway as evident by his four consecutive final round appearances in NHRA XPlod Sport Compact Series competition here at the historic New Jersey quarter-mile. Last year in his first year of Pro FWD competition the popular 28-year-old was runner-up to fellow Team Chevy driver Bryan Jimenez, and he posted back-to-back wins in the Hot Rod category in 2004-05. He came into Sunday's eliminations qualified No. 2 and continues to make strides in his Ecotec-powered Red Bull Chevy Cobalt. He defeated Christian Rado in Round 1 and then had an exciting holeshot win over Marty Ladwig in his Lucas Oil Chevy Cobalt in Round 2 to face Hunt.
"What a great weekend for this Red Bull Racing team," Gardella said. "We obviously would've liked to have gotten the win, but we're definitely starting to figure out this new Chevy Cobalt. Like any new car, the more we run it, the more we learn about it and the more we learn how to get it down the racetrack. We've been testing and the guys have been working real hard, and you can see that the hard work is starting to pay off."
Hunt's teammate Brian Ballard tried to duplicate the duo's sweep at the season-opener at West Palm with another win in the Quick 16 category, but the Chevy Cobalt driver fell just short when he went under his dial-in and lost to Ryan Smith in the finals. Ballard still has won twice this season (W. Palm, Englishtown) and leads the East Region Quick 16 category.
The series next heads west and returns to action at the fifth annual Las Vegas NHRA Sport Compact Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on July 13-14.
-credit: gm racing