Team Chevy's Marty Ladiwg Sets Both Ends of National Record En Route to Second Straight NHRA Pro FWD Victory Brian Ballard Claims Quick-16 Title at NHRA Sport Compact Spring Nationals ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 6, 2007 - Team Chevy's drag-racing...
Team Chevy's Marty Ladiwg Sets Both Ends of National Record En Route to Second Straight NHRA Pro FWD Victory
Brian Ballard Claims Quick-16 Title at NHRA Sport Compact Spring Nationals
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 6, 2007 - Team Chevy's drag-racing footprint was felt all across the North American continent this weekend and included a national-record setting performance by Marty Ladwig at the 7th annual NHRA Sport Compact Spring Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Ladwig captured his second straight win in the Pro FWD category by driving his Ecotec-powered Cobalt to a final-round victory over Ed Bergenholtz. In the Quick 16 category, Brian Ballard put a solid grip on the Eastern Division points standings with his second win of the year and his third final-round appearance in a Chevy Cobalt.
Ladwig entered today's eliminator with his Lucas Oil Chevrolet qualified in the No. 2 position. After struggling through some minor gremlins during Saturday time trials, Ladwig put on an exciting raceday performance that saw the Chevy Cobalt driver win the event, set both the elapsed time and top speed record, and post all three eliminator runs over 200 mph.
"This was a fantastic weekend," said Ladwig. "It looked a little bleak in the beginning because we had some troubles during qualifying, but we got around them, we got it figured out, and every round was exciting. We had little problems here and there, and we weren't quite sure how things were going to go, but to be able to set the record over 200 mph, that's something we've been trying to do for two years. That in itself is awesome."
Ladwig defeated Chris Rado in round one, resetting the national e.t. record with a run of 7.274 seconds at 200.50 mph. In the second session, and in one of the closest and quickest side-by-side races ever seen in the Pro FWD category, Ladwig defeated fellow Chevy Cobalt driver Gary Gardella by .047 of a second, and crossed the finish line first with a 7.317 e.t. at a national-record top speed of 201.55 mph.
In the finals against Bergenholtz, Ladwig once again busted the 200 mph top speed barrier defeating the defending NHRA Pro FWD champion with a 7.303 e.t. at 200.77 mph. Bergenholtz followed with a 7.581 second run at 195.19 mph. The margin of victory for the Chevrolet was .155 of a second.
"To be able to win against Ed is awesome," said Ladwig. "He's a tough competitor, and to win anytime against him is never easy."
It was Ladwig's third NHRA career victory at Old Bridge Raceway Park and his fifth final-round appearance. It was also the 15th career NHRA win for the two-time NHRA Hot Rod champion and his 25th final-round appearance. Ladwig is also the only Pro FWD driver to go over the 200 mph barrier with a total of five passes exceeding the top speed mark.
"This Chevy Cobalt runs great, it drives straight, so if we do make any changes, they'll be minor in scope," said Ladwig. "Our Ecotec engines are very powerful and reliable, so we'll keep the changes small and maybe concentrate on the tune-up. But right now, I just want to enjoy this. This was one of those weekends you only dream about as a racer, and when you can come out and run like we did, it's especially gratifying. The track is always great here. The fans are great, the staff are nice and it's a pleasure anytime you have a chance to race in Englishtown."
Although he came up short against race-winner Marty Ladwig in the semifinals, Gary Gardella proved that his Red Bull Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt is ready to run at the front of the pack. The New Jersey native, who claims Old Bridge Raceway Park and nearby Atco Raceway as his home tracks, qualified in the No. 4 spot and defeated Jason Hunt in round one with a career-best e.t. of 7.367 seconds at 198.12 mph. His loss to Ladwig in round two was by a razor-thin .047 of a second, but in that matchup, Gardella's Chevrolet posted another stunning 7.408 e.t. at a career-best speed of 198.55 mph.
"We were shooting for a 7.28 or a 7.29 on that run," said Gardella. "We had a little bit better reaction time than Marty, and given the potential of this Red Bull Chevy Cobalt, that should have put us over the top. This whole program is new to us, but when I got out of the car, it was such an awesome race that I just had to go up to him and tell him what a great job he did. That was a fun race. There's no way you hang your head after something like that, and every one of my teammates made it possible. We're getting a handle on some of these new parts - we were a little behind at the beginning of the year, but I think we're back in business.
"We ran our career best e.t and speed in round one and then came back again in round two and ran another career-best speed. We have the crew, we have the equipment, we have everything it takes to win and we plan on making a hard run at the championship."
Jason Hunt was looking for his third consecutive win at this event, but a red-light foul in round one ended the day early for the Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt driver. Hunt still posted impressive numbers all weekend long, and actually set the national top-speed record at 197.42 mph in qualifying before Ladwig took it away on Sunday.
"Jason was doing what he thought he had to do and was pushing the tree, but that's why he's the driver," said team-owner Charlie Schafer. "He didn't think the car was going to react as well as it did and going red is what happens sometimes. That's drag racing. And in hindsight, seeing what Gary ran, pushing the tree was probably a pretty good idea. We'll pick up where we left off here, and hopefully, keep going faster because this whole Pro FWD class is moving ahead really quick."
In the Quick 16 category, Brian Ballard nailed down his second win of the year, and advanced to his third final-round appearance. The K & N Filters Chevy Cobalt driver qualified in the No. 3 position and defeated Julio Lebron in round one, Jose Toro in round two and Jose Roma in round three.
Ballard's Chevrolet once again showed why it is the class of this highly competitive field, posting consistent numbers all afternoon including a 9.463 e.t. at 134.23 mph in round one, a 9.370 e.t. at 138.83 mph in round two and a 9.342 e.t. at 155.42 mph in his final-round victory over Henry Montero.
"This Chevy Cobalt performed flawlessly all weekend," said Ballard. "I cut decent lights, which I didn't do last weekend and that cost me the win. I picked it up there and the car did its job. We're solidly in first place with two races left, they only take your top four races out of the five, so we're in pretty good shape. I feel pretty good about our championship hopes - that's what we're trying to do."
-credit: gm racing