INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 19, 2007 - It was another national-record setting weekend for Team Chevy's red bowtie brigade of Pro FWD Ecotec-powered Cobalts during the running of the inaugural Indy NHRA Sport Compact Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park. The...
INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 19, 2007 - It was another national-record setting weekend for Team Chevy's red bowtie brigade of Pro FWD Ecotec-powered Cobalts during the running of the inaugural Indy NHRA Sport Compact Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park. The legendary venue hosted new records in both elapsed time and top speed and an exciting all-Cobalt final round between Gary Gardella and Marty Ladwig.
Chevy Cobalt driver Gary Gardella won his first NHRA Pro FWD national event of the season by defeating Marty Ladwig in the finals. It was Gardella's first NHRA victory since the second event in West Palm Beach (Fla.) in 2005.
Gardella entered raceday with his Ecotec-powered Red Bull Chevrolet qualified in the No. 2 position after posting a 7.288 elapsed time during Saturday time trials. He defeated defending NHRA Pro FWD champion Ed Bergenholtz in round one, and Jason Hunt in round two, narrowly getting by the Matco Tools Chevrolet driver with a 7.385 e.t. at 199.43 mph (to Hunt's 7.476 second run at 199.11 mph). Gardella's margin of victory over Hunt was .083 of a second.
In the finals, Ladwig launched first and led most of the race, but near the top end, Gardella's Cobalt edged past the red-and-white Lucas Oil Chevrolet to take the win light by a half-a-car length, crossing the stripe in 7.344 seconds at 198.96 mph. Ladwig's numbers were 7.509 seconds at 197.54 mph. Gardella's margin of victory was .035 of a second.
"It feels good to get back up on our feet and get the monkey off our backs," said Gardella. "The Red Bull Chevy Cobalt was running great numbers and the car really stepped up - I hope this can keep going on."
It was Gardella's seventh career NHRA national-event victory and his third NHRA final-round appearance this season. By winning on Sunday, Gardella creates a three-way Chevy scramble for the 2007 NHRA Pro FWD championship and moves into third-place in the points standings.
"At the beginning of the year we were working the bugs out and we didn't think we had what it takes," said Gardella. "But with a lot of hard work, good crew members and energy we finally know we have the car to beat."
Marty Ladwig's record-breaking road to the final round began on Saturday when the Ecotec-powered Lucas Oil Chevrolet posted a national-record elapsed time of 7.261 seconds en route to the No. 1 qualifying position. Ladwig backed up the national record in his round one win over Bryan Jimenez when he ran a 7.264 e.t. at 198.50 mph. Ladwig had a bye in round two before facing Gardella in the finals.
"The car ran perfectly all weekend," said Ladwig. "We were able to stay within a narrow range from about 7.26 seconds to the mid 7.30s on almost every run. In the finals we ran into a spot on the track where we spun the tires hard. That's why our time fell off there, but overall, our Ecotec engines ran great, our Chevy Cobalt did the job all weekend, and we came awfully close to winning the race."
Jason Hunt contributed to Chevrolet's national-record weekend when he set the top speed mark during Saturday qualifying at 202.64 mph. Hunt qualified in the No. 3 position and advanced to round two before losing to Gardella.
With four races remaining on the docket, Marty Ladwig now moves around Jason Hunt and back into first place in the NHRA Pro FWD standings. By virtue of grabbing the 20 points for setting a national-record elapsed time, the No. 1 qualifier bonus points, and by advancing to the championship round, Ladwig increases his lead over second-place Jason Hunt, and actually gains one point over race-winner Gary Gardella, who leaped-frog over Ed Bergenholtz into third place.
The Pro FWD competitors will return to Indianapolis in two weeks to take part in the running of the 53rd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
"We're looking forward to coming back," said Ladwig. "If we can all run the kind of numbers we did this weekend we'll be able to put on pretty good show in front of the POWERade crowd - and putting on a good show is what it's all about."
-credit: gm racing