Dinwiddie, VA - There's nothing more frustrating than going into a racing weekend knowing that you have the potential to be the class of the field, and then, for whatever reason, not having the opportunity to prove it. Just ask Center Moriches, NY...
Dinwiddie, VA - There's nothing more frustrating than going into a racing weekend knowing that you have the potential to be the class of the field, and then, for whatever reason, not having the opportunity to prove it. Just ask Center Moriches, NY IHRA Pro Stock driver John Montecalvo, for whom the young IHRA racing season has been about as disappointing as the pre-season was inspirational.
This year, in an all-out attempt to break Ford's grip on top spot in the popular mountain-motored class, Montecalvo retired his trademark Monte Carlo and rolled out a sleek 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier. Right from the start the new Citgo-sponsored factory hot rod showed definite signs of being an over-achiever, notching a blistering elapsed time of 6.575 during late winter testing.
But since the regular season kicked off with the 31st running of the Holley Springs Nationals in Rockingham, NC, Montecalvo and crew have been struggling to get their car's potential race-winning power to plant itself on the ground. Tire shake and sudden turns towards the wall have plagued them through most of their qualifying attempts, and on into the elimination rounds. At "The Rock", rattling tires and general directional unruliness took John out in the second round, leaving a hoped-for confrontation with rival Ford pilot Tom Lee an as-yet unresolved issue.
So it was with renewed determination that Montecalvo unloaded his car for the AC Delco Nationals, presented by Chevrolet, at Virginia Motorsports Park this weekend. After all, it was at this track in February that Montecalvo made his quickest and fastest testing runs. True to form, during Friday's first two qualifying sessions, the car behaved itself well, and was showing positive signs of performance consistency as John posted passes of 6.620/ 209.07 and 6.640/209.75, good enough for eighth position in the provisional field. On Saturday, the trend continued as the Citgo Cavalier ran two more 6.60's, a 6.673/208.97 followed by a 6.642/208.94. The numbers were good enough to keep John in the number eight spot, where he had lane choice over number nine qualifier Jason Collins, and his 1998 Ford Probe.
The pair were the first two cars to the line on Sunday, and Montecalvo was looking to get back on track with a first round win. He hung a wicked holeshot on Collins, .478 to .560, but things went downhill quickly from there, as the car snaked between the centerline and the guardrail in the first 60 feet, and John was forced to hit the kill switch to end an other weekend way too early.
For the second race in a row, Montecalvo was thwarted in his attempts to prove his Chevrolet's worthiness. But he knows it's there, and he knows the Ford guys know it's there. And they also know that there's nothing like a little adversity to fuel the fires of determination. It's just a matter of time before the New York-based team gets all the wrinkles ironed out, and when they do, you can bet that there'll be enough classic Ford verses Chevrolet battles yet this season to satisfy everyone's deep-seated competitive desires; most especially those of John Montecalvo.