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Records, low turnout at Compact opener

By LOUIS BREWSTER
STAFF WRITER

FONTANA - Not even a national record nor the first 200-mph pass over the California Dragway quarter-mile on Saturday could mask the small turnout of entries at the NHRA Sports Compact Drag Racing Series season-opener.

Just two of the five pro classes will have full fields when final eliminations begin today at 1 p.m. on the California Speedway grounds, while one class is one car short.

"A lot of racers are still getting ready or don't have the budget," said event director Javier Ortega. "Some of our teams are learning how to become professionals."

Marty Ladwig of San Antonio, Tex., set the national mark in Hot Rod by stopping the clocks at 8.340 seconds at 170.62 mph in his 2004 Pontiac Sunfire. The pass, the second of three qualifying runs on the day, shattered the previous mark of 8.45 set by Gary Gardella last October in Englishtown, N.J.

Ladwig's time was more than a half-second better than Mike Crawford in a Dodge SRT-4.

"I don't think I have an advantage in equipment," said Ladwig, a former motorcycle champion. "We were as fast in testing as we were today, so we were able to back it up. The big advantage for us is testing.

"We made about 15 runs in Florida, so we know what works and what doesn't work," said Ladwig, part of the GM Racing effort. "We showed up today knowing what's going to work. A lot of the teams are still testing here."

In Pro FWD (Front Wheel Drive), Lisa Kubo recorded the quickest pass ever in the four-year series. Kubo, who won the inaugural spoirts compact drag race ever at the Fontana track in 1999, recorded a 8.028 second run at 186.12 mph, quicker than her 8.046 run at Pomona Raceway last October.

If she can get within one percent of that run in her Saturn today, Kubo will establish a national record.

"It didn't feel spectacular," said Kubo. "I thought my first run felt stronger and better. Obviously, it ran good but we turned the boost down three pounds.

"We're running 40 to 45 pounds and Gary (Kubo, husband and crew chief) wants to go about 50 pounds," said Kubo. "The pressure (for a sub-8 second run) is overwhelming. We're all capable. If the conditions are right, if everything is there, I don't see why not."

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This is where GM needs to be draw the minds of young compact car buyers. The only other compact car racing that people watch in volume is the WRC, and we all know that GM is the only car company to not field a Rally Team.
 

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Originally posted by Maetrix66@Mar 15 2004, 03:33 PM
This is where GM needs to be draw the minds of young compact car buyers. The only other compact car racing that people watch in volume is the WRC, and we all know that GM is the only car company to not field a Rally Team.
Yeah, why is that? An AWD Cobalt coupe WRC racer would be interesting.
 

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Originally posted by paul8488@Mar 15 2004, 04:44 PM
thought it was a stock sunfire until i saw the pic! love how the rear tires wrinkle as she takes off... cool :) wonder if my tires do that...
Yah, not too many Sunfires wrinkling their rear tires on takeoff.... :lol:
 

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Originally posted by Jay+Mar 15 2004, 09:35 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Jay @ Mar 15 2004, 09:35 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Maetrix66@Mar 15 2004, 03:33 PM
This is where GM needs to be draw the minds of young compact car buyers. The only other compact car racing that people watch in volume is the WRC, and we all know that GM is the only car company to not field a Rally Team.
Yeah, why is that? An AWD Cobalt coupe WRC racer would be interesting. [/b][/quote]
*cough* AWD WRC ION *cough*

someone say something?
 

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I actually think that the Pontiac Pursuit could make an awesome AWD rally car. Too bad we won't get it here, unless.........
Well, anyway, GM would argue tht they already have a highly competetive WRC team, the Subaru WRC team. In my opinion, it doesn't count.
No one will agree that 25% ownership is enough to consider Subaru a "GM" brand.
I think that Pontiac needs a version of the Pursuit for america. Make it a 4 door, strap a turbo to the Ecotec, give it AWD, then send it after the WRX and EVO. It won't compete right away, but I think that those two cars have the market to themselves now, well, with the SRT-4, but I don't believe the ION Redline and the Cobalt SS will touch them without AWD, since they'll have less power than all three.
 
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