Chevrolets, GM Horsepower Dominate First-Day Action At Thunder Valley Gardella, Hartford Post Rockingham Victories; Ladwig Sets Both Ends Of NDRA National Record BRISTOL, Tenn., July 9, 2005 - The title heats for the Professional categories at...
Chevrolets, GM Horsepower Dominate First-Day Action At Thunder Valley Gardella, Hartford Post Rockingham Victories; Ladwig Sets Both Ends Of NDRA National Record
BRISTOL, Tenn., July 9, 2005 - The title heats for the Professional categories at the NOPI Nationals in Rockingham, N.C. were postponed due to rain on June 26, and the champions were finally determined during tonight's third round of qualifying for Sunday's eliminator at Bristol Dragway. The scorecard will show that Chevrolets and GM horsepower completely dominated the first day of action at Thunder Valley scoring national-event victories and capturing poles in Pro 4 Cylinder and Pro Compact, an NDRA national e.t. record and No. 1 qualifying effort in Pro Outlaw FWD. and No. 1 qualifying honors in NOPI Chic.
Driving the Ecko/Hot Hues Chevy Cobalt, Gary Gardella defeated Joe Demaree in the Rockingham finale to capture his third victory of the season in the Pro 4 Cylinder category (his fifth overall win of 2005 when combining events in both NOPI and NHRA). Gardella's ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt beat Demaree's Honda to the finish line with an 8.230 second run at 170.13, Gardella's best lap of the day. Demaree's Honda slowed to a 10.264 e.t. at 155.24 mph. It was Gardella's fourth final-round appearance of the season in the NOPI series and moved the New Jersey native even closer to his first XBOX Cup.
"That's one," said Gardella. "Now we need to come back tomorrow and double-up. I couldn't be more excited. We ran an 8.23 in the finals and there wasn't a lot left in the racetrack tonight. But we can expect another greasy track tomorrow. That's okay, we're ready for it. We're keeping up that Chevy winning tradition and that's what I want. We don't come out here to be runner-up.
"This Chevy Cobalt is on rails. It doesn't matter what we do to it, this Chevrolet goes straight as an arrow every time. The Roush guys did an outstanding job putting this package together - we haven't had any issues whatsoever. It's just a fun racecar to driver."
In addition to his Rockingham win today over Demaree, Gardella captured the No. 1 qualifying spot for the fourth time this season in the Pro 4 Cylinder category with his final pass of the afternoon.
"During the first round of qualifying we smoked the tires really hard all the way down to the 330," said Gardella. "We took out some power just to get it down the racetrack and it worked to our advantage. We've got some good data though and that's something we can use tomorrow."
In Pro Compact, Matt Hartford advanced to his second NOPI final round of the season and his fifth overall (NHRA and NOPI) in the GM High-Feature V6-powered Chevrolet. Hartford then went on to defeat Matt Scranton in the championship to collect the Rockingham trophy, his second NOPI win of the year. Hartford's Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet was unstoppable posting a 6.746 e.t. at 197.80 mph to Scranton's 8.627 second run at 117.81 mph. Hartford's Chevrolet will also start Sunday's eliminator from the No. 1 qualifying spot after running 6.720 seconds at 211.26 mph during the second round of time trials.
"To run a 6.72 in the second round on a 135-degree racetrack, there's not a whole lot of rubber out there, it's shaking the whole way down, and then to come back and run a 6.74 in the finals is incredible," explained Hartford. "The Summit Racing Chevrolet was the only car in the 6.70s today, and the next quickest car was a 6.89 so we're thrilled. That actually was our qualifying motor and we'll put our race motor in for tomorrow. With the short schedule, just 35 minutes between rounds, we ended up not making the switch tonight before the final. We ran on our qualifying motor and it was flawless. I hope our luck stays with us tomorrow. Without Summit Racing, MTX Audio, GM, and my entire crew this couldn't happen.
"We got out ahead of Matt and stayed out there. I was nervous though because I red lighted against Matt in Denver and I was petrified I was going to do it again. But tonight I was late. Luckily the Summit Racing Chevrolet got down the track."
Marty Ladwig joined the Chevy red bowtie parade tonight in grand style, capturing the No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Outlaw FWD when his ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt set both ends of the national record with an e.t. of 7.674 seconds at 194.07 mph.
"It was great to be able to come out to Thunder Valley today and put together three passes in a row that were consistent, competitive and record-setting," said Ladwig. "It's fun to run fast and to see how this ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt responded to all of the hard work put forth by this team. Everything went very smooth and we're all very pleased. Tomorrow we get to run against the Saturn car and I think we have something for them. Hopefully we can get the win and put the exclamation point on what has been an outstanding effort by this race team. After the Denver race we did some testing and fine tuned everything on the racecar and it's obvious that the car is running much, much better."
In NOPI Chic, Brittany Kindle, driving the ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt Phase5 earned her second No. 1 qualifying trophy of the season with a run of 12.562 seconds at 110.90 mph.