Las Vegas: GM Racing final summary

Connolly, Ladwig, Dixon Deliver Chevrolet Victories In Las Vegas Bartone Advances To First Career Finals In Monte Carlo Funny Car LAS VEGAS, April 17, 2005 - Dave Connolly gave Chevrolet its 123rd all-time win in NHRA Pro Stock competition today...

Connolly, Ladwig, Dixon Deliver Chevrolet Victories In Las Vegas Bartone Advances To First Career Finals In Monte Carlo Funny Car LAS VEGAS, April 17, 2005 - Dave Connolly gave Chevrolet its 123rd all-time win in NHRA Pro Stock competition today with a final-round victory over Greg Anderson at the Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is the third time this year that Connolly's Chevrolet has advanced to the championship heat, and the win moved the 22-year-old Ohio native back into first place in the Pro Stock standings.

"You have to give credit to Grump (Bill Jenkins)," said Connolly. "His engines gave us low e.t. in all four rounds today, and with Terry Adams and the rest of the team doing their job, it was a pretty good day. It's easy to get down the track four times when you have a car as good as this Chevrolet underneath you."

Connolly came into today's event with his Chevrolet qualified in the No. 7 position. On Saturday afternoon Connolly served notice when he ran the second quickest elapsed time during the first session of the day and the quickest time during the final qualifying round. During today's eliminator Connolly's Chevrolet eliminated Jason Line in round one, Kurt Johnson in round two and Greg Stanfield in round three, running 6.869 seconds, 6.874 seconds and 6.874 seconds. In the championship round against Anderson, the Bullet Motorsports Chevrolet launched first with a .028 reaction and charged across the finish line with a 6.879 e.t. at 201.46 mph. Anderson's Pontiac followed with a 6.955 second run at 200.77 mph. Connolly's margin of victory was .082 of a second.

Connolly's second victory of the season was also his fifth career win and his first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He also become the first repeat winner in the Pro Stock category in 2005. Connolly will trade in his winning Cavalier for a brand-new Chevy Cobalt just in time for the next race in Bristol, Tenn., on April 29 - May 1.

"It's a great feeling to get our second win of the year," said Connolly. "Now we're ready to put the towel over the Cavalier and climb into our new Cobalt. We're pretty excited because we think the new car is going to be a lot better. It's a nice looking car with great aerodynamics, and GM has done a great job getting it ready for competition.

"We adjusted to the hot conditions this weekend really well, and this car has always seemed to like hot racetracks. Yesterday we got really, really close, so all we had to do was fine tune for today, make sure the driver did his job and keep the momentum going. We're in Las Vegas so we're going to celebrate a little bit, but I'm looking forward to going to Bristol and driving the new Cobalt - it looks awesome. We'll bring it out and see if we can't pick up where we left off here."

Greg Anderson advanced to his fifth consecutive final-round appearance at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Anderson's first final-round appearance this year in the Summit Racing Pontiac was enough to move the two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion up to third place in the points standings.

"This place has been great to me and today was no exception," said Anderson. "We struggled this weekend and ended up getting lucky. I can't think of a weekend where we ran so badly but were able to salvage so much from it. We were simply fortunate today and somehow we made the finals. We'll take it and move on, but we've got a lot of work to do to get things straightened out."

For the third consecutive race, four GM-branded cars advanced to the semifinal round of the event. The final four slots of the Pro Stock eliminator included the Pontiacs of Anderson and Warren Johnson, and the Chevrolets of Connolly and Greg Stanfield. It also marks the fifth consecutive race that Warren Johnson has advanced to no less than the third round of eliminations, and the third consecutive race that Connolly has reached the semis. Johnson slips to second place in the standings, a razor thin nine points behind Connolly, the current points leader.

"Although we didn't get the win that we were anticipating, at the same time, our GM Performance Parts Pontiac is really starting to gel," said Johnson. "For example, the engine we used this weekend is the same one we won with in Houston. We put it in before the fourth qualifying session, and it hasn't been out of the frame rails since. The car is extremely strong from the sixty-foot mark to the eighth mile, outrunning just about every one out there. We're pretty optimistic heading into the rest of the season. In the big picture, we're doing what we need to do. It's now a matter of working on the little things. We'll go back and analyze the complete package and see what we can do to potentially make it even better. Today is behind us - our focus is now on doing what we can to win Bristol in two weeks."

Marty Ladwig won his first contest of the season and his first ever in Pro FWD today by defeating Ed Bergenholtz in the final round. Ladwig's Ecotec-powered Chevy Cobalt ran the table this weekend in Las Vegas capturing low qualifying honors, setting low e.t. at 7.770 seconds and posting top speed of the meet at 194.69 mph. In the finals against Ed Bergenholtz, Ladwig's Chevrolet crossed the finish line with a winning 8.628 second time at 170. 28 mph. Bergenholtz followed with a 9.159 e.t. at 177.02 mph.

"It certainly was a well-earned victory by this race team," said Ladwig. "They've worked so hard since last October and to get the win here today at Las Vegas is a tremendous accomplishment for this entire GM Racing program. We were shooting to go 200 mph here, and the crew worked hard to try and make that happen, but winning here was the main goal and we were able to get that done in front of this great Las Vegas crowd. It couldn't get any better."

In addition to Ladwig's first NHRA Pro FWD victory in the Chevy Cobalt, it also marked the two-time NHRA HOT ROD champion's 10th career victory in sport-compact competition.

"We waited most of the day to get this final run in," said Ladwig. "The guys have had this Chevy Cobalt ready to go since last night so there was a lot of anticipation waiting to see how the racecar would perform, and to get the win makes it all worth it. The car was prepared flawlessly, and the heat we've had here this weekend just takes it out of you. But this team never quit. They were the first ones here this morning and they'll be the last ones to leave tonight - they still have an engine change they want to do. I can't say enough about the great job they did this weekend."

Team Chevrolet driver Larry Dixon captured his first Top Fuel victory of the year and advanced to his second final round of the season. Dixon defeated Doug Kalitta in the final round running 4.591 seconds at 326.40 mph to Kalitta's 4.648 e.t. at 319.52 mph. In winning today's race Dixon provided team owner Don Prudhomme with his 100th all-time victory as an owner/driver. Dixon is now third in the POWERade standings, just 68 points behind first-place Tony Schumacher.

"We got Snake his 100th win and that's a real big deal," said Dixon. "It seems like we were stuck on 99 for awhile. We never made a full run during qualifying during the day so I was a little nervous today. We got our panels blown off on one run and we got by with dropped cylinders on another, but we saved the best run for last against a good Kalitta team, and man, we needed it. They're a tough team, and they've taken the sweat out of us at the last three races in-a-row so it's nice to throw a little sweat back at them."

Tony Bartone came within .04 of a second to making it a complete Chevrolet sweep by advancing to his first career Funny Car final round. Bartone's Monte Carlo advanced to the championship round by defeating Tommy Johnson Jr., in the first heat, Tim Wilkerson in the quarterfinals and Ron Capps in the semifinals before losing to Whit Bazemore in the finals. Bartone's 4.983 e.t. at 303.23 mph fell slightly short of Bazemore's 4.976 second run at 315.12 mph.

"A great weekend for this team," said Bartone. "Jim's (Dunn) been able to put together a hot-track tune-up here and now we're looking forward to the hot, greasy tracks in the months ahead. It's always nice to win, disappointing not to win, but I've been in this game a long time and to get to the final round was a treat."

-gm racing-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Tony Bartone , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Don Prudhomme , Greg Stanfield , Tim Wilkerson , Terry Adams , Jason Line , Dave Connolly , Tommy Johnson Jr.