GM Racing news 2005-05-24

As Summer Approaches, Chevy's 2005 Cobalt Tuner Team Turning Up The Heat On The Import Competition Chevy Cobalt Has Already Compiled Impressive Performance Record ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., May 24 2005 - Pick from a choice of words; outstanding, ...

As Summer Approaches, Chevy's 2005 Cobalt Tuner Team Turning Up The Heat On The Import Competition

Chevy Cobalt Has Already Compiled Impressive Performance Record

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., May 24 2005 - Pick from a choice of words; outstanding, auspicious, terrific, dazzling, exceptional, and any one of them would perfectly describe the Chevy Cobalt's season to date in Sport Compact Drag Racing. Continuing a grand tradition that has made the Chevy red Bowtie synonymous with winning, the Cobalt has already compiled an impressive performance record that has struck hard at the heart of the import competition, promising to reset the record book in 2005.

"Through the success of our factory and factory-supported teams, GM Racing has proven the reliability, durability and high-performance capabilities of our production-based components in an extremely competitive environment," said Carmen Smith, GM program manager for sport-compact drag racing. "Our goal at GM Racing is to make GM products the hardware of choice among sport-compact drag racers, and everything we do in testing or on the racetrack is another step toward reaching that objective."

It should come as no surprise that 2003-04 NHRA Hot Rod champion Marty Ladwig has been able to make a smooth transition into the seat of the Pro FWD/Pro Outlaw FWD Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt. Already the San Antonio, Tex., resident has advanced to the winner's circle at Las Vegas (NHRA) after qualifying No. 1 there, and Atco (N.J.), and he's also posted a pair of runners-up at NOPI events in Phoenix and Richmond (where he was also No. 1 qualifier).

"The great thing about this sport is that you never know what to expect, and that is especially true when trying to determine the performance of these new Chevy Cobalts," said Ladwig. "The awesome thing about this series and these types of cars is that nobody knows what the limits are. Every time you think they can't go any faster, they go a lot faster and a lot quicker. We haven't even come close to that performance wall. Every time we learn something or try something different, we go faster. It's an exciting time to be a part of this sport, to see the growth that is taking place and to see GM Racing's commitment toward making it more easily accessible for anyone who wants to participate."

Ladwig made drag racing history on May 15 when his Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt became the first front-wheel-drive car in history 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 at the NHRA Sport Compact Northeast nationals in Atco, N.J.

"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 front wheel drive car is amazing," said Ladwig. "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 was really an over-the-top weekend for GM Racing and Chevy Cobalt fans."

Ladwig's step up from the HOT ROD category to the Pro FWD car was helped along by his experience as a former two-time (1999-2000) AMA/Prostar 600 Supersport national champion.

"At first I questioned my ability to adjust from the automatic transmission I had grown accustomed to in the HOT ROD car to the sequential transmission in the Pro FWD Cobalt," explained Ladwig. "But the team was very supportive and let me know that we were all in this together. The nice thing is that a lot of things I had learned racing motorcycles over the years reduced my learning curve considerably. Once I got in the car and drove it, I felt right at home, figured things out pretty quickly and away we went.

"The great thing about the GM program is that we've pushed everyone else to excel, looking at what we have done to our cars and adapting what we are doing to their own programs. All of the engineering we've done, those are things that other car manufacturers are incorporating into their own designs. We're not just out there winning races and beating everyone, we're pushing the envelope and developing new technology that makes it more cost-effective for everyone in the sport."

When sport-compact mainstay Gary Gardella made the switch to Chevrolet last January, the expectations were that the New Jersey native would be able move his racing program to a higher level of excellence with the new Ecotec-powered Cobalt. And looking at what the 25-year-old Gardella has been able to accomplish in the first few months of 2005, it appears the prognosticators making those predictions were correct. In five races, three in NOPI Pro 4 Cylinder and two in NHRA Hot Rod, Gardella has scored wins at Budds Creek (Md.), Richmond (Va.), and Atco (N.J), and captured a pair of runner-up trophies at Phoenix and West Palm Beach. He currently holds the NHRA Hot Rod national elapsed time record at 7.932 seconds.

"Ecotec, Hydra-Matic, GM Racing - thank you once again for the finest, most reliable racing components in the sport," said Gardella. "To win, you have to be there at the finish line, and this new Chevy Cobalt is built to go rounds and post the kind of numbers it takes to be a winner. "We're still working toward getting every ounce of performance out of this car, this Ecotec engine and our Hydra-Matic transmission, and we're confident there's still quite a bit left."

At the NOPI contest at Budds Creek, Gardella became the first competitor to win a national event in a Chevy Cobalt where he also ran a career-best elapsed time of 7.926 seconds. With 376 points, Gardella currently sits in first place in the NOPI Pro 4 Cylinder standings, 136 points ahead of second-place Chuck Seitsinger.

"In the long run, the people that work the hardest win the most races," said Gardella. "That's how the GM team got to be so far ahead of the rest of the field. They spent hours upon hours developing the Ecotec engine and the Hydra-Matic transmission, and it's easy to appreciate what they've accomplished. They took something from scratch, were able to win back-to-back championships in Hot Rod and Pro FWD, and set performance standards that are the class of the sport. I became a fan early because the GM program displayed the professionalism and the characteristics I've always admired."

If you talk to Brittany Kindle, she'll tell you that driving her new Chevy Cobalt Phase5 is about the most fun she's had racing in a long time. In just her second event behind the wheel of the Ecotec-powered Cobalt Phase5 at the NOPI Nationals in Richmond, Va., the 22-year-old New York City resident claimed her first NOPI Chic victory of the season, and that's just for starters. A week later at the NHRA Sport Compact race in Englishtown, N.J., Kindle ran her quickest time to date in the new Chevrolet after posting a lap of 12.58 seconds, and at the NOPI Alabama Nationals at Atlanta International Dragway on May 15, Kindle visited the NOPI Chic winner's circle for the second time this year. When you look at the season ahead, things promise to only get better for this up-and-coming racer.

"There's a point when you know your equipment is going to run nicely and is set up well, and with the Cobalt Phase5 that's where we are now," explained Kindle. "It's a great position to be in, especially when you look at how we struggled last year with our old car.

"A lot of people in the classes we compete in don't have the luxury of a car as reliable and consistent as the Cobalt Phase5, and that's definitely to our advantage. When I can drive a car as fast, as consistent and as reliable as the Cobalt Phase5, it gives me more confidence and one less thing to worry about. All I have to do now is cut a good light and get it to the finish line."

The production-based Cobalt Phase5 race car that Kindle drives features powertrain, chassis and safety components developed by GM Racing - including a 500+ horsepower race-prepared Ecotec engine that inspired the Phase5 name. The heart of the Phase5 Cobalt is a turbocharged 2.2-liter Ecotec engine that's been modified to produce 535 horsepower while retaining 65 percent of the production-engine parts. The race car features GM and aftermarket components, including a race-prepared Hydra-Matic 4T65-E automatic transmission, suspension upgrades, and performance electronics.

"Everyone loves the Cobalt Phase5," said Kindle. "It's fast, it looks amazing, it's a fun car to drive, it's easy to maintain and is perfect for what Chevrolet is trying to market to our age group. The great thing is that we're still not running our 500-horsepower Ecotec engine up to its full potential yet. This year we're going after that championship again and having the Chevy Cobalt Phase5 is going to help us get there."

-gm racing-

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