Record-Breaking Weekend For Team Chevy at NHRA Sport Compact Springnationals Jason Hunt, Erica Nocita Post Victories in ECOtec-Powered Cobalts ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 7, 2006 - It was an exciting, record-breaking weekend for Team Chevy at the...
Record-Breaking Weekend For Team Chevy at NHRA Sport Compact Springnationals
Jason Hunt, Erica Nocita Post Victories in ECOtec-Powered Cobalts
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 7, 2006 - It was an exciting, record-breaking weekend for Team Chevy at the NHRA Sport Compact SpringNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, and it culminated with a victory and new national performance marks in Pro FWD for defending event champion Jason Hunt, and another win in the Quick 16 category for California native Erica Nocita.
Jason Hunt ran the table in the Pro FWD and will leave Old Bridge Raceway Park after racking up 138 points, the most a driver can accumulate at a single national event. The 30-year-old Hunt took a sledgehammer to the record book, practically rewriting it every time his ECOtec-powered Chevrolet Cobalt took to the quarter-mile.
"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."
Just as he did in 2005, Hunt qualified the Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt in the No. 1 spot with a 7.669 second run at a national-record top speed of 195.19 mph. Because of his stellar qualifying effort, Hunt received a bye in round one of eliminations, but still stopped the timers with a stunning 7.568 e.t. at 194.35 mph. He then defeated Ron Townsend in round two with a national-record e.t. of 7.519 seconds at 194.52 mph. In the finals against Ed Bergenholtz, Hunt's Chevy Cobalt continued its dominating performance pulling away from the Mazda as soon as the Christmas tree struck green, and crossing the finish line 7.524 seconds later at a speed of 194.63 mph. Bergenholtz followed with an 8.182 e.t. at 182.82 mph. Today's effort marked the second career NHRA Sport Compact win for Hunt and it was his fourth career final-round appearance.
"We're all new 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, we all worked together and found the combination we needed. The first hit I was a little nervous, and I short-shifted, but we got a good baseline. Then we put up a 7.50 and another 7.50 and we ran good speed as well. Every time I clicked it into fourth the car just motored down the track. It was just a great weekend."
It was also a weekend of career-bests for a number of Chevy Cobalt drivers competing in the Pro FWD category. Gary Gardella broke out of his early season slump by driving the DuPont/Hot Hues Chevrolet to a career-best e.t. and speed of 7.742 seconds at 184.93 mph. Gardella advanced to the semifinal round of eliminations before losing to Bergenholtz.
Bryan Jimenez continues to get better behind the wheel of his ECOtec-powered Chevrolet. During qualifying, the Houston, Tex., resident ran a career-best elapsed time of 7.885 seconds.
In the HOT Rod category, Ron Lummus drove an ECOtec Pontiac to the No. 1 qualifying spot, a national speed record and an event victory. Lummus established the new speed mark during qualifying at 181.40 mph. He ran 8.049 seconds in round one of eliminations, slowed to a 17.149 second e.t. in round two and then won the race with an 8.086 second e.t. at 178.95 mph.
Erica Nocita turned in another impressive showing this weekend in the ultra-competitive Quick-16 category by driving her Chevy Cobalt Phase5 to a second straight national event victory. The 22 year-old junior at Azusa-Pacific University (where she is pursuing a double major in business and chemistry) qualified her Chevrolet in the No. 13 spot and posted consistent numbers all afternoon running 11.239 seconds in round one, 11.200 second in round two and 11.211 seconds in the semifinals. In the championship heat against Kevin Francisco, Nocita's Chevy Cobalt was again spot-on perfect, crossing the finish line with an 11.200 e.t. at 120.90 mph. Her final round opponent red lighted.
"Winning at Englishtown is like winning at Indy to us," said Nocita. "This Chevy Cobalt Phase5 just keeps getting better and better. At West Palm we thought we'd won our one race for the year, and that was great, but to be able to do it again here is wonderful. We couldn't do it without Gardella Racing because we couldn't even to get to Englishtown if it weren't for them. We've been racing with some great people, Chicago Title, Sierra Chevrolet, GM Racing, this was for all of our sponsors and this is something I don't think ever gets old.
"When I was 16 I thought if I could win one Wally I would be happy. Winning is so addicting and to have the car as consistent as it was today certainly doesn't hurt. We qualified with an 11.15 and ran in the 11.20s all day. You can't ask for anymore out of a racecar than that. These guys out here are great drivers, but when luck is on your side, and it's your day then you're going to win."
The next stop on the NHRA Xplod Sport Compact tour is the Northeast Sport Compact Nationals at Atco Raceway in Atco, N.J. on May 20 - 21.