Records Tumble As Chevrolets, Cobalts Dominate The Weekend's Sport Compact Racing Landscape Marty Ladwig's Ecotec-Powered Chevy Cobalt Shatters 200 MPH Barrier ATCO, N.J., May 15, 2005 - The sport-compact drag racing landscape was dominated...
Records Tumble As Chevrolets, Cobalts Dominate The Weekend's Sport Compact Racing Landscape
Marty Ladwig's Ecotec-Powered Chevy Cobalt Shatters 200 MPH Barrier
ATCO, N.J., May 15, 2005 - The sport-compact drag racing landscape was dominated over the weekend by Chevy Cobalts posting victories in three separate classes including a sweep of the Pro FWD and HOT ROD categories at the Northeast NHRA Sport Compact Nationals at Atco Raceway.
Marty Ladwig captured his second Pro FWD victory of the season, and made drag racing history in the process when his Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt became the first front-wheel-drive car in ever 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.
"This was an awesome weekend," said Ladwig. "To set the new speed record during qualifying and then come back and pick up the win and run the first 200 mph pass by a 4-cylinder or front wheel drive car is amazing. This has been one of the long time goals of GM Racing and Roush Industries and all the credit goes to the crew's hard work. It's especially great to be able to do it with our new sponsors: Brut, XM Radio, and RockStar Energy Drinks. It's really an over-the-top weekend for GM Racing and Chevy Cobalt fans."
Ladwig entered the Sunday eliminator with his Chevy Cobalt qualified in the No. 1 position after setting the Atco Raceway Pro FWD track record with a 7.659 e.t. at a national record top speed of 197.00 mph. During his final qualifying pass on Saturday, the car got loose at the top end and tagged the retaining wall. But the GM Racing team rallied back and worked late into the night to get Ladwig's Chevrolet prepared for raceday. In the finals against Jason Hunt, the Ecotec-powered Cobalt took the win light with an 8.069 second run at 202.02 mph. Jason Hunt, whose Ecotec-powered Saturn Ion was appearing in its third Pro FWD final round of the season, followed with a 9.517 e.t. at 107.06 mph.
"The GM Racing team did a wonderful job getting everything fixed and ready to go on our Chevy Cobalt," said Ladwig. "Winning the race and exceeding the 200 mph barrier in a four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive car is a testament to the hard work and dedication of this race team and GM Racing, and it's another one of those days when you realize how just lucky you are to be associated with such a great program."
In HOT ROD, Gary Gardella won this weekend's battle between he and Ron Lummus in another all-Ecotec final round. Gardella successfully defended his '04 win at Atco Raceway by driving the Ecko Function Chevy Cobalt to its first NHRA victory of the season.
Gardella came into the eliminator with his Chevy Cobalt qualified in the No. 2 position. He defeated Johnny Ortiz in round and was awarded a bye-run in round two but took advantage of the free pass to set a new NHRA HOT ROD elapse time record fo 7.932 seconds. In the finals, the Lummus-driven Pontiac launched off the line with a narrow advantage but the Gardella Racing Chevrolet reached the finish line first with a winning 8.003 e.t. at 176.71 mph. Lummus' captured his second runner-up of the season to go with two victories after posting an 8.081 second run at 175.91 mph. The margin of victory for Gardella was .065 of a second.
"Ron was great competition," said Gardella. "It really wouldn't have mattered if we lost that final - that's what every race should be like. With the win and the record this weekend, I feel like I'm on top of the world right now. I couldn't have done it ithout the support of my sponsors, my family and the great guys at Roush and GM Racing that have helped make this Cobalt run like it does."
Matt Hartford advanced to his second consecutive final round, and his first runner-up of the season in the GM High-Feature V6-powered Chevrolet, before losing to Brad Personnet in the championship heat. Hartford's Summit Racing Chevrolet recorded a national-record elapsed time of 6.52 seconds on Saturday to give the Arizona resident his sixth career No. 1 qualifying award.
On race day, Hartford defeated Carlos Montano in round one, and Stephan Papadakis in round two with an impressive 6.572 e.t. at 214.59 mph. In the finals against Personnet, Hartford's Chevrolet turned in another strong performance with a 6.611 second lap at 212.96 mph, but it wasn't enough to overtake Personnet's winning 6.498 e.t. at 217.12 mph.
"We had our eyes on (the record) all day on Saturday," said Hartford. "We just kept creeping up on it and Mylon [Keasler], our superstitious crew chief, said we couldn't leave a 6.66 on the qualifying board after the second round. So, we made a chip and boost adjustment, the air was good, and it just came around. Getting the runner-up today was another nice step toward our ultimate goal of winning the championship and the extra 20 points for the record will certainly help as well."
Switching venues to the NOPI Alabama Nationals at Alabama International Dragway in Steele, Ala., Brittany Kindle captured win No. 2 in the NOPI Chic series in her Chevy Cobalt Phase5. Kindle entered the eliminator qualified in the No. 1 spot after posting a 12.913 second run at 106.72 mph. Kindle was awarded a bye in round but grabbed lane choice for round two with a 12.922 second e.t. at 102.92 mph. She defeated Jessica Fountain in round two with a 13.129 e.t. at 95.94 mph and the Toyota of Patrycja Wodecka in the finals with a 13.021 second run at 102.95 mph. Wodecka broke out with a 12.679 e.t. at 116.00.
"Everyone loves the Cobalt Phase5," said Kindle. "It's fast, it looks amazing, it's a fun car to drive and is perfect for what Chevrolet is trying to market to our age group. One thing we've learned is to take it race to race, season to season, one step at a time. This year we're going after the championship again and having the Chevy Cobalt Phase5 is going to help us get there."