Ecotec Horsepower Determines Pro FWD Championship At California Dragway
FONTANA, Calif., March 14, 2004 -In an Ecotec-powered all-GM final round, Lisa Kubo squeezed past Nelson Hoyos today to win the Pro FWD category at the California Sport Compact Nationals at California Speedway. It was the first victory of the season for the 29-year-old driver of the Saturn Ion, and her second win in a row going back to last October's sport compact World Finals at Pomona Raceway (Calif.).
Kubo came into the race with her 2.0-liter Ecotec-powered Saturn qualified on the pole. During time trials on Saturday, the turbocharged Ion ran the quickest elapsed time by a Pro FWD car in NHRA competition when Kubo crossed the finish line in 8.028 seconds at a speed of 186.12 mph. She then defeated Jo Jo Callos in round one of eliminations today before squaring up with defending Pro FWD series champion Nelson Hoyos.
"Until the finals, Nelson's Cavalier was the only car that got down the track nice and straight," said Kubo. "It was important to beat that Acura in round one so that we could put the two Ecotec-powered racecars in the finals together."
In the championship round, Kubo's Saturn took the win light running 8.055 seconds at 180.79 mph, good enough to back up yesterday's elapsed time and set a new national record. Hoyos' orange and cinnamon Chevy Cavalier followed in 8.397 seconds at 180.48 mph. The margin of victory was .3046 second.
"That had to be the best race of the day," said Kubo. "Our Saturn Ion was fast, straight, and it did everything you could ever expect from a Pro FWD car. We were also able to back up the record. This was a great way to start the season."
It was the fifth career victory in seven final rounds for Kubo and puts her in first place in the Pro FWD with nine races remaining.
"It's a big deal to win the first race of the year," said Kubo. "This is what sets the tone for the remainder of the season and it's important that you get off to a good start. We were fortunate to run well this weekend and hopefully that will give us the necessary jump start to keep the ball rolling."
Nelson Hoyos started the afternoon with his GM Racing Chevy Cavalier qualified second. He grabbed lane choice for the finals after running a career-best elapsed time of 8.217 seconds in a round-one victory over Ed Bergenholtz before losing to Kubo in the finals.
"We really couldn't have asked for much more," said Hoyos. "We're still trying to sort out the combination on this new Chevy Cavalier, and since it's brand new, it will take a little more time. But we showed that we have the power to be competitive, and the team demonstrated that they have the ability to be successful. There's no question that we're going to put this Chevrolet in the winner's circle real soon.
"Our Ecotec engines are going back to the shop and we'll go over them with a fine-tooth comb making sure they're ready to race again. We'll go down to Bradenton (Fla.) to test probably two weeks before Moroso, get the rest of the package sorted out and then go again in West Palm Beach (Fla.). This down time makes me itchy and with the promise of this new Cavalier, it is so, so different from last year's car. This 2004 Chevrolet stays straight, it doesn't waver out of the lane, and every command I give it, it responds. It's just a dream to drive, It's going to be a rocket ship - it's just a tremendous pleasure to drive."
In HOT ROD, Marty Ladwig came into the race qualified in the No. 1 spot after his Ecotec-powered Pontiac Sunfire set the national e.t. record with a run of 8.340 seconds at 170.62 mph. Ladwig lost during round three of eliminations when his car wouldn't stage under power.
"It was one of those fluke incidents that can only happen in racing," said Ladwig. "What we found out though this weekend was that our Pontiac Sunfire is going to be a very fast racecar. We set the national record, set low e.t. of the meet and did everything but win the race. The great thing about it is that we've got nine races to go."
The next stop on the 10-event NHRA Sport Compact tour is the BF Goodrich Tires Sport Compact Nationals on April 17 - 18, at Moroso Motorsports Park in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
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