GM Racing Richmond summary

Team Chevy's Marty Ladwig Runs the Table at Virginia Motorsports Park Ladwig's Ecotec-Powered Chevy Cobalt Qualifies No. 1, Wins Event, Sets National Record E.T., Eclipses 200-MPH Barrier RICHMOND, Va., April 22, 2007 - Chevrolet's Marty...

Team Chevy's Marty Ladwig Runs the Table at Virginia Motorsports Park

Ladwig's Ecotec-Powered Chevy Cobalt Qualifies No. 1, Wins Event, Sets National Record E.T., Eclipses 200-MPH Barrier

RICHMOND, Va., April 22, 2007 - Chevrolet's Marty Ladwig made it perfectly clear today that he'll be a contender for the 2007 NHRA Sony Xplod Sport Compact Pro FWD championship. The driver of the Lucas Oil, Ecotec-powered Cobalt threw his hat into the ring in grand style by running the table at this weekend's Virginia NHRA Sport Compact Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park, winning the race, qualifying No. 1, setting a new national e.t. record and running over 200 mph for only the second time in the history of the Pro FWD category.

Ladwig entered raceday with his Ecotec-powered Chevrolet qualified in the No. 1 spot. His qualifying elapsed time of 7.312 seconds set the table for a new national record, but only if the San Antonio, Tex., resident could back up the time with another run within one percent. With the pole position secure, Ladwig came out on raceday facing fellow Chevy Cobalt driver Bryan Jimenez in round one. In the first session, Ladwig not only backed up the national record with his winning 7.344 e.t., but he also ran a track-record speed of 200.17 mph, only the second time in NHRA Pro FWD history that a driver has eclipsed the 200-mph barrier, and both times have been by the Chevy Cobalt driver (the first time was in 2005).

Ladwig took a round-two bye run and posted a 8.024 e.t. at 131.43 mph, and lost lane choice for the finals to Bergenholtz. But in the championship heat, it was all Chevrolet, with Ladwig blistering the timers with an event-winning 7.634 second run at 169.36 mph. Bergenholtz fouled with a starting-line red light. Coincidentally, it was Bergenholtz who defeated Ladwig in last year's Pro FWD final round at VMP.

"After West Palm Beach, we worked mainly on car setup and getting a second engine ready, just in case we needed it," explained Ladwig. "After we lost an engine in the second round of qualifying, the backup motor came in handy. I guess that's just good planning on our part.

"Car setup was also crucial. We tinkered with the wheelie bars, and just did some things to our Chevy Cobalt that we felt would help us launch more effectively and run 60-foot better. That's where it paid off for us with both the 7.31 and then the backup in round one. Plus, to go over 200 mph again, that's a huge accomplishment for this team and I'm really proud for all the people who made it possible. This is still a new car, and there's so much more left. Our goal at the beginning of the year was to run in the sixes, go over 200 mph and win the championship. We're a third of the way there."

It was Ladwig's first win since last June's victory over Jason Hunt at Denver's Bandimere Speedway, and it was also the Lucas Oil Chevrolet driver's 14th career NHRA victory and his 24th final round. In addition to the performance of his Ecotec-powered Chevrolet, Ladwig also gave credit to the new track surface at Virginia Motorsports Park.

"As competitors trying to go as quick as we can from A to B, you could not ask for a better racing surface," said Ladwig. "The track provided the kind of traction we needed to apply everything we had, and that was evident by the numbers you saw throughout the entire Pro FWD category. We were able to go fast, keep the car straight and demonstrate the kind of performance we're capable of producing with our 1300 horsepower Ecotec engines."

After taking the season's first event at West Palm Beach, Fla., Jason Hunt was hoping to put his Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt in the winner's circle for the second race in a row. After qualifying in the No. 3 spot with a 7.571 seconds at 196.39 mph, Hunt defeated Gary Gardella in round one with a 7.504 e.t. at 194.49 mph, and then lost on a holeshot in the semifinal round to Bergenholtz, running a quicker 7.435 second run at 199.55 mph to Bergenholtz' 7.461 e.t. at 194.60 mph.

"That just goes to show you how competitive this category is going to be," said Hunt. "It's going to be a dogfight, and now Marty's in the thick of it, and Gary (Gardella) doesn't look to be too far off either. It should get interesting.

"I thought we ran great, we just stumbled a little against Ed and he took advantage - that's drag racing. You have to be perfect to win and if you blink, you're done. That's okay. Our Matco Tools Chevrolet keeps getting better. We'll be ready for Englishtown in two weeks. We've had some success there over the years."

In the All Motor category, Ladwig teammate Julie Stepan advanced to the semifinal round in her Chevy Cobalt before losing to Jeremy Lookofsky. Stepan qualified in the No. 6 spot and defeated Saul Salceda in round one.

Brian Ballard advanced to his second straight Quick-16 final round in the K & N Filters Chevrolet. Ballard qualified No. 1 with a 10.060 e.t. at 117.78 mph. In the championship heat against Jerry Lewis, Ballard broke out, and ran quicker than his 10.06 index when his 9.367 e.t. was .693 of a second under his dial-in.

In other drag racing action two hours south of Virginia Motorsports Park, the Chevy red bowtie took gold medal awards in Pro Stock and Alcohol Funny Car at the IHRA Knoll-Gas Nitro Jam Spring Nationals event in Rockingham, N.C.

In Pro Stock, John Montecalvo drove his Chevy Cobalt to a final-round victory over Pete Berner. Montecalvo's 6.388 e.t. at 218.83 mph defeated Berner's Pontiac GTO by a narrow margin of .017 of a second at the stripe.

The Alcohol Funny Car championship heat was an all Chevrolet affair between Mark Thomas and Terry Munroe. Thomas' Chevrolet took the win light with a 5.798 e.t. at 246.39 mph and defeated Munroe by only .008 of a second.

-credit: gm racing

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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas , John Montecalvo