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Hubinette To Drive Mopar Viper at Formula D Season Opener; Challenger Drift Car Delayed

Hubinette To Drive Mopar Viper at Formula D Season Opener; Challenger Drift Car Delayed

LONG BEACH, California — Chrysler's ongoing financial struggles will not keep it from campaigning a car in the 2009 Formula Drift Series. The seven-round series hosts its opening event on the streets of Long Beach, California this weekend in conjunction with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Samuel Hubinette told Inside Line on Tuesday that despite unveiling the 2009 Mopar Challenger drift car at the 2008 SEMA Show last November, the car will not make its competition debut until the third round of the Formula Drift series at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey on June 5 and 6.

"The car isn't tested and I'm not comfortable in it yet. We always want to bring out a car that I'm most comfortable and most competitive in," Hubinette said. "We're very proud to be back with Mopar and BFGoodrich. They've stuck with us in the middle of crisis."

The delay was no doubt enhanced when Shaun Carlson, team owner and the man primarily responsible for the new car, suffered three heart attacks early this year. Carlson is recovering after implantation of a defibrillator but is on restricted duty.

When it does debut, the Challenger is estimated to produce at 800 horsepower — more than any other car in the series — from its 430-cubic-inch engine, according to Hubinette. It will also utilize the widest rear tires in the series — massive 335-section-width BFG rubber.

Built by Carlson's NuFormz Racing, the car's body is largely carbon fiber to save weight. Protecting that expensive bodywork from minor rubs with the wall are small rollers protruding through the rear bumper — a first in sport.

The 2009 season marks Hubinette's sixth year with Mopar. In that time he's won the title twice — in 2004 and 2006 — and has nine victories, more than any other driver.

Inside Line says: Hubinette predicts his new car will be very competitive when it's fully sorted. Given his track record and NuFormz' creative execution, we can't argue. — Josh Jacquot, Senior Road Test Editor
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