JoJo Callos Gainesville preview

Castrol SYNTECO Acura bids for rematch with Ladwig's Pontiac GAINESVILLE, Fla. (May 17-18) -- Former series champion JoJo Callos has one goal and one goal only at this week's third annual Trader Magazine Southeast Nationals at Gainesville...

Castrol SYNTECO Acura bids for rematch with Ladwig's Pontiac

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (May 17-18) -- Former series champion JoJo Callos has one goal and one goal only at this week's third annual Trader Magazine Southeast Nationals at Gainesville Raceway and that is to make sure that the race for the Hot Rod championship is anything but automatic.

The automatic transmission-equipped Pontiac Sunbird of Marty Ladwig, winner of the first two events in the 2003 NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series, is the primary target of Callos and his manually-shifted Castrol SYNTEC Acura Integra.

Callos, Team Manager Scott Revell and a Team Tactics crew led by Kareem El Sherif have been working overtime to find an answer for the performance advantage enjoyed thus far by the automatic transmission entries of Ladwig and Mike Crawford, whose Dodge Neon was the No. 1 qualifier at the season-opening race at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

"They're fast," Revell said of Ladwig and Crawford, "but the big advantage they have is that the can run the numbers without using up their equipment. The rest of us are having to push (our equipment to the limit) to keep up."

"Over the last year, they've done a lot of development learning how to slip the clutch and it's paid off," Revell said.

Nevertheless, Callos is anxious for a rematch with Ladwig who beat him two weeks ago in the final round of the Nitto Extreme Nationals at Englishtown, N.J., when, on the burnout, the clutch failed in the Integra.

"I think we had something for them," Revell said, "but we didn't get a chance to use it. The clutch just went away. I was surprised (the car) even left the (starting) line."

The 2001 Hot Rod Champion and the runner-up last year, Callos has won more races in the class than any other driver (six) and, last season, became the first to break the 8.90 second barrier en route to three national record-setting performances.

Ironcially, the Long Beach, California, driver's best season was the one BEFORE he won the NHRA championship. In 2000, driving a Honda Civic, he won nine times in 13 appearances on the NIRA and IDRC circuits.

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