Gary Gardella, Marty Ladwig Drive Chevy Cobalts To NOPI World Finals Victories Gardella's Chevrolet Sets Pro 4 Cylinder ET Record, Ladwig Runs Quickest and Fastest Numbers In Pro Outlaw FWD Category NORWALK, Ohio, Oct. 16, 2005 - Gary Gardella...
Gary Gardella, Marty Ladwig Drive Chevy Cobalts To NOPI World Finals Victories
Gardella's Chevrolet Sets Pro 4 Cylinder ET Record, Ladwig Runs Quickest and Fastest Numbers In Pro Outlaw FWD Category
NORWALK, Ohio, Oct. 16, 2005 - Gary Gardella and Marty Ladwig led the Chevy red bowtie brigade during Sunday's running of the NOPI World Finals at Norwalk Raceway Park. Gardella captured his 10th victory of the season in Pro 4 Cylinder and set a new national e.t. record in the ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt. Ladwig captured his second win of the year in Pro Outlaw FWD by driving his Chevrolet to the quickest and fastest performance numbers in the history of the category.
"It's all about hard work, and we're very proud of what our teams accomplished this weekend at the NOPI World Finals," said Carmen Smith, GM program manager for sport-compact drag racing. "GM Racing hardware and technology allowed all our competitors to reach new performance goals and it was a great way to end the NDRA season."
Gardella entered raceday with his candy-apple red Ecko/Hot Hues Chevrolet qualified in the No. 1 position, the ninth time in 11 events that the 26-year-old New Jersey resident has started eliminations from the lead position. Gardella defeated Kenny Tran in round one with a 7.821 second run at 176.9 mph, and then eliminated Joe Demaree in the semifinal heat setting a new national elapsed-time record of 7.781 seconds at 177.4 mph. In the finals against Paul Bhawan, Gardella's Cobalt stopped the clocks in 7.809 seconds at 177.21 mph. Bhawan's Honda followed with a 9.005 e.t. at 123.98 mph. Gardella's margin of victory was 1.269 seconds.
"Every single pass this weekend our Cobalt went faster and faster," said Gardella. "I can't say enough about what a great job the GM Racing team did in putting this package together. It's been an incredible weekend and an incredible year. It seems like every single lap we made this year we put up a strong number - I cannot remember the last time this car did not make it down the racetrack with a strong, straight pass. Consistency is the name of the game in this sport - you have to make it to the finish line to have any hope of winning, and that's precisely what this Chevrolet did all season long."
Gardella's victory on Sunday at Norwalk Raceway topped off a season in which he won a combined 13 national events (NDRA/NHRA), advanced to a combined 16 final rounds and captured his first NDRA XBOX Pro 4 Cylinder championship. The Chevy Cobalt driver advanced to the final round in every race in which he competed this season including all 11 contests on the NDRA Pro 4 Cylinder schedule and five NHRA HOT ROD eliminators.
"I want to thank all of my sponsors, Chevy Cobalt, Ecko Unlimited, Dupont, Manley, Red Bull, everybody who helped me get to this point," said Gardella. "It was a great year and I couldn't have finished it any better. That 7.78 e.t. was an incredible number, with the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, with a small turbo on an awesome track - it was an awesome weekend.
"We're going to enjoy this one a little bit. I have a lot going on in my life. I'm getting married next month and I couldn't have done this without my fiancee, Megan Villeco - I wouldn't be here without her. She helped me stayed focused this whole time. My father, my brother, my mother, everybody in my family - I have the greatest family in the world. And my crew chief Jon Perry, he's been with me since day one when I first started racing. Also Brett Schultz from Roush - if you don't surround yourself with good people you'll never be the best."
In the Pro Outlaw FWD category, Marty Ladwig picked up his second win of the season, his fourth overall (NDRA & NHRA) in an all ECOtec, all-GM final-round victory over Jason Hunt. Ladwig entered raceday with the Brut Chevy Cobalt qualified in the No. 2 position. Ladwig defeated Stephanie Eggum in round one before facing the Pontiac of Jason Hunt in the title round. In the championship heat, Hunt's Pontiac left first and led briefly before Ladwig's Cobalt blistered by, and crossed the finish line with the quickest time and fastest speed in the history of the category - a 7.292 second run at 201.61 mph. By advancing to the finals, Hunt claimed the 2005 XBOX Pro Outlaw FWD championship.
"That was incredible," said Ladwig. "You could tell this Chevrolet was on a really good pass, and to run the fastest elapsed time by a front-wheel-drive car at Norwalk Raceway Park is a great experience. Halfway down the quarter-mile I started smiling because I knew this Cobalt was on a terrific run. The car left great, launched hard, and down track it started pulling so I knew it was on something good. All year long we knew we had a really good car, and the potential has been there to run the big numbers. To finally achieve that toward the end of the season says a lot about the dedication of this crew. They slugged it out all year, kept pounding away at it and we finally achieved one of our main goals - to run in the 7.20s. I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys than I am this race team. They're sharp, very talented, and I'm just the lucky one who gets to take the ride.
"We're looking forward to racing again next weekend at Pomona (Calif.). We'll get to see if we can do this all over again at the NHRA Finals."
Brittany Kindle advanced to her fourth NOPI Chic final round of the season. Driving the Chevy Cobalt Phase5, the New York City resident earned her fourth No. 1 qualifying award of the season on Saturday and posted her best-time ever in the Cobalt Phase5 with a 11.892 e.t. at 113.67 mph. Kindle defeated Elise Smith in round one and Teresa Sherrill in round two before losing to the Saturn of Brianne Golden in the championship heat.
"It feels wonderful, we're very excited," said Kindle. "A lot of hard work went into getting us to this point. We broke out and lost our first race at Budds Creek (Md.), ran a 12.94 e.t., but we were so excited. Now, here we are at the end of the season, running our best ever in the Chevy Cobalt Phase5 and that's pretty special. I would have to say that we've made some progress this year.
"Our biggest goal this weekend was to run in the 11s. We took the car off the trailer just the way we had it at Atco (N.J.). We changed the oil, took it to the line and ran an 11.95 - it came out of nowhere. That was without turning the boost up at all. We added a couple of more pounds of boost for the third run and that's when we ran the 11.89. We knew this Chevrolet could do it, it was just a matter of getting all the pieces together. We love this car. It's the best racecar we've ever had."