Chevrolet Conquers Drag Racing's Quarter-Mile in 2006 A Bounty of Professional and Sportsman Championships Rolled in this Season for Chevrolet DETROIT, Nov. 22, 2006 - A bounty of professional and sportsman championships spanning four different...
Chevrolet Conquers Drag Racing's Quarter-Mile in 2006
A Bounty of Professional and Sportsman Championships Rolled in this Season for Chevrolet
DETROIT, Nov. 22, 2006 - A bounty of professional and sportsman championships spanning four different drag racing series including NHRA, NHRA Sport Compact, IHRA and NDRA rolled in for the red bowtie this year giving Chevrolet one of its best seasons ever on the quarter-mile. Chevy virtually swept the table clean in the NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman series taking five titles in the seven classes contested, and in IHRA, Chevys will wear the champion's crown in eight of 11 classifications including titles in Torco Racing Pro Nitro Funny Car and Torco's CompetitonPlus.com Pro Modified.
Frank Manzo captured his 10th NHRA Lucas Oil Alcohol Funny Car championship this year driving the Lucas Oil Chevy Monte Carlo to six national-event victories (including his eighth U.S. Nationals title) and seven final-round appearances. Manzo advanced to his first championship heat of the year at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., losing to long time rival Jay Payne. Manzo then drove his Chevrolet to national wins at Atlanta, Englishtown (N.J.), Brainerd (Minn.), Indianapolis, his seventh straight at Reading (Pa.), and Richmond (Va.), where his Monte Carlo set both ends of the national record with an astounding run of 5.450 seconds at 263.26 mph.
"We ran good consistent numbers with our Lucas Oil Chevy Monte Carlo for almost the entire year and we took advantage of some excellent opportunities when the weather and the track conditions permitted," said Manzo. "There's never a time when Frank Manzo and his crew will ever stop trying, or go into test mode, or start taking it easy. That's not how we race and we'll come back next year with the same determination that contributed to our championship this season."
Peter Biondo became just the fifth NHRA Sportsman driver to win five or more championships after driving his 2006 Chevy Cobalt to the Lucas Oil Super Stock title. Biondo won the ACDelco Nationals in Gainesville, Fla. and then added divisional victories at Englishtown and Bradenton (Fla.). Biondo also won the Stock eliminator national meet in Brainerd.
Chevrolet's other NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman champions included Bo Butner in Competition Eliminator who captured his first title driving a 2006 Cobalt, Iggie Boicesco who won his first championship in Super Gas in a 2002 Corvette, and Ron Erks in a Chevy-powered Super Comp dragster.
In April, when California native Erica Nocita flew all the way across the continent to drive her Chevy Cobalt Phase5 in her first Quick 16 race at Moroso Motorsports Park in West Palm Beach, Fla., she couldn't have imagined that six months later she would be crowned the NHRA Sport Compact Eastern champion. However, the 22-year-old Nocita made the most of the opportunity this season by capturing two national-event victories and claiming her first NHRA title.
"We weren't even shooting for the championship," said Nocita. "We wanted to enter some races, try to get some points and see where we landed. After Englishtown someone told us that we were in contention for the championship and we were stunned. After that everything kind of fell into place for us. That's a testament to how good this team is, and to how good our Chevy Cobalt Phase 5 is. We couldn't have done it without everything that GM and Chevrolet have done for us."
Jason Hunt won his second consecutive NDRA Pro Outlaw FWD championship by driving his 2006 ECOtec-powered Matco Tools Chevy Cobalt to six victories and eight No. 1 qualifying awards. Hunt's Chevrolet also set the NDRA national e.t. record in May at Budds Creeks (Md.) with a run of 7.461 seconds, and the top-speed record in August in Epping, N.H. with a mark of 199.27 mph. His resume was enhanced with NHRA Pro FWD wins at Englishtown and Las Vegas, and Hunt's Cobalt set the e.t. national record at Englishtown (7.51 seconds) and the national speed record at Las Vegas (196.44 mph).
"It seemed like the team kept getting better and better as we progressed through the year," said Hunt. "From the standpoint of our on-track performance, this was certainly the kind of year that you dream about, and at the same time, considering the potential of our ECOtec-powered Chevrolet, it wasn't a surprise by an means. We ran fast at Valdosta (Ga.) and from there we just kept building on the momentum. There's no reason why we can't come back next year and do just as well."
Jason Hunt's CSI Racing teammate Brian Ballard brought home a championship for Chevrolet in the hotly contested NOPI Turbo Street category. Ballard used a 2006 Chevy Cobalt to nail down wins at St. Louis, Rockingham (N.C.), Leicester (N.Y.) and Norwalk (Ohio), and he also advanced to the final round at Epping (N.H.) and Budds Creek (Md.).
Don Nase Jr. made the move this year to the Pro Extreme class and drove his ECOtec-powered DVD Avenue.com dragster to the 2006 NDRA Xbox Cup championship. In nine contests this season Nase captured nine wins, earned nine No. 1 qualifying awards, and set the elapsed-time national record at 6.441 seconds and the top-speed national record at 211.76 mph. Both national-record numbers are the best ever by a four-cylinder car in sport-compact, quarter-mile competition.
"From the beginning our whole goal, every time we went to a track, was to get a 10th of a second quicker," said Nase. "Now we're the quickest four-cylinder-powered car to run down a dragstrip. What's cool is that we know we can go out there and constantly run those numbers, constantly stay where we are, and it doesn't set in. Sometimes you're so close to that you don't realize what you have accomplished."
Chevrolet's IHRA onslaught was led by veteran driver Dale Creasy Jr. who captured his first career series title and was crowned the 2006 Torco Pro Nitro Funny Car champion, edging out second-place Jack Wyatt by a razor-thin five points. Creasy piloted his Chevy Monte Carlo to national-event wins at Grand Bend (Ont.), Edmonton (Alb.), Cayuga (Ont.) and posted a runner-up at Rockingham (N.C.).
"That was about as close of a points race as you'd ever want," said Creasy. "Our Chevy Monte Carlo was outstanding and got the job done when we needed it. To win my first race was all I ever wanted, and now to win the championship is indescribable. Our team did an outstanding job and Jack's (Wyatt) team was great. Anyone who came to an IHRA event in 2006 sure got their money's worth."
Quain Stott captured his first Torco Racing Fuels Pro Modified championship. In 2006, the 46-year-old North Carolina resident drove his '63 Chevy Corvette to national-event wins at Edmonton (Alb.) and Budds Creek (Md.), and was runner-up at Grand Rapids (Mich.). It was Stott's 11th consecutive top-10 finish in IHRA, the longest streak among current Pro Mod drivers.
Other IHRA title winners included Mark Thomas in Alcohol Funny Car (Chevy Monte Carlo), Marco Abruzzi in Top Sportsman (1968 Chevy Camaro), Steve Furr in Super Rod (1968 Chevy Camaro), Kenny Underwood in Hurst Hot Rod (1967 Chevy Camaro), Joe Gary in Summit SuperSeries Box (1968 Chevy Camaro) and John Coyle in Summit SuperSeries No Box (1963 Chevy Nova).
In 2006, Chevrolet competitors conquered drag racing's quarter-mile and swept away its on-track rivals by establishing records and capturing victories that provided the red bowtie with a year that will long be remembered.
-credit: gm racing