Records fell as the NHRA Sport Compact series made its eighth stop of the season at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., for the BFGoodrich Tires Sport Compact Nationals. Tirso San Juan, Nelson Hoyos, Marty Ladwig and newcomer Clay Sloan made their way into the winner's circle.
Hot RodThe big news of the weekend was Marty Ladwig becoming the first ever Hot Rod Class racer to break into the seven-second barrier. Marty came close in qualify with a blazing 8.010 run but turned up the heat in the finals against Kenny Tran with an even more sizzling 7.973 at 184.32 mph. After the run Marty gave credit to Garrett Turbos for their help in finding the extra power he needed to make the seven-second run possible. An interesting sub-plot to this story is that he is the only Hot Rod Class driver using an automatic transmission. Running consistent times is much easier for Ladwig than other racers in the class using a manually shifted Xtrac gearbox. The GM Racing Pontiac Sunfire team pretty much has the championship locked up with still two races to go. Ladwig has a 314-point lead over second place contender Gary Gardella.
All MotorJesus Padilla looked like the odds-on favorite to win the All Motor Class after qualifying. Padilla grabbed the number one spot with a 10.088 at 131.38 mph. The next closest qualifier was Scott Mohler with a 10.471, nearly 0.4-seconds behind. Padilla mowed down the competition in round 1 and had a bye-run in round 2. Unfortunately, Jesus was unable to keep the momentum going into the finals.
Newcomer Clay Sloan, racing at his first ever NHRA Sport Compact event, would face off with Padilla. Clay and his father, Tony, showed up just to do some test and tuning with a new engine in their CRX. With the right adjustments and some good luck they pulled a rabbit out of the hat and ran a 10.607 at 126.47 against Padilla losing 11.582 at 127.82
ModifiedKicking it into high gear was Paul Efantis in his 2003 Lucas Oil Toyota Solara. Paul has won three of the last four races and is quickly cutting into Carlos Gonzalez, Sr.'s point lead. Paul had a bye in the first round due to Krystos Efantis' engine problems.
In the finals, Paul faced off with Gonzalez, Sr. Both cars were having problems but Efantis was able to pull off the victory with a 8.126 at 160.58 mph to Gonzalez's 8.704 at 127.55. Paul also set the national speed record during qualifying with a top-end charge at 185.79 mph.
Pro FWDNelson Hoyos cut into Lisa Kubo's point lead by defeating Jojo Callos in the finals. Hoyos has been on a rampage lately, winning three of the past four races. Lisa's point lead has shrunk to 42 over Nelson during that span. If Hoyos can win at Englishtown, N.J., it is possible he can take over the point lead if Lisa doesn't advance to the final round. The next couple of races should be exciting. We'll see how these two duke it out. Hoyos also set the class e.t. record with a 7.594 run during eliminations. Hoyos is the defending class champion and is looking forward to the next two races at Englishtown and Pomona.
Pro RWDMatt Harford was the talk of the town. Hartford set track records for both e.t and speed with a 6.613 at 211.46 mph run during qualifying. However, he was not able to carry his momentum from qualifying over into eliminations. He lost in the first round to eventual winner Tirso San Juan. San Juan had an uphill battle all the way into the finals. Not only did he beat Hartford in the first round he also had to go through Matt Scranton in the second and Ara Arslanian in the finals.
The next two races at Englishtown and Pomona should be exciting. With such close battles for top spot in four of the five pro classes its anyone's guess as to who's going home with the championship. We'll be sure to keep you updated with the action until the bitter end. Time to smoke them hides.