Rockingham, NC - Heading out of the beautiful confines of Norwalk Raceway Park in late August, John Montecalvo had four final round appearances, the Mopar Parts World Nationals trophy and the Sunoco Race Fuels points lead to his credit. With four events still ahead on the 2000 Summit Racing Series schedule, however, and performance levels streaking towards uncharted territory at nearly every event, John knew he was in for a real fight if he intended to hold onto his tenuous spot at the head of the pack.
And that's exactly what he got, in triplicate. Moving on to Epping, NH's New England Raceway for the Amalie Oils Northern Nationals, Montecalvo qualified his Citgo-sponsored Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the number six spot, and made it to the semi-finals before being bumped out of contention. Jon Yoak eventually took the event win, and the lion's share of the available points, to move into a tie with Montecalvo for the lead.
Heading into the stretch run, John really would have really appreciated a smile or two from the good break fairy, but apparently she was looking the other way at Budds Creek, MD, where the President's Cup Nationals was contested in late September. The Center Moriches, NY driver only managed one qualifying pass that counted, and from the number 12 spot he faced defending champion Chris Holbrook in the first round of eliminations. Holbrook, who had been struggling all season, picked that precise point in time to break out of his slump, sending Montecalvo to the sidelines way before he was ready to go.
John fought hard to stay in the top three, but Tom Lee, Yoak and Ron Miller all overtook him in the points race, posting some record breaking speeds and elapsed times in order to do so. Lee set the class on its ear with an incredible 6.58 pass to capture the Sunoco Showdown at the MOPAR Parts World Finals in Shreveport, LA, where he finished second to Yoak in the final. At this point, Montecalvo was still in the thick of things, but elimination in the second round didn't help his cause at all as he slipped to fourth overall.
With one event to run, this weekend's conclusion of the rain-shortened CARQUEST Autumn Nationals at Rockingham, NC, Montecalvo was intent on equaling the third place finish he garnered in the Sunoco points in 1999. Unfortunately, 'Tres Hombres' were at it again, running roughshod over the rest of the Pro Stock competition on this cool November weekend in the Carolinas. Lee, Miller and Yoak once again laid claim to the top three spots, with Montecalvo slotted into the number 13 position.
In round one, John faced off against number four qualifier Jerry Yeoman. At the green, Montecalvo got the jump on his opponent, but severe tire shake reared its ugly head, and John shut the white Monte' down for the last time in 2000. Yoak went on to claim the championship with a first round win, setting a new speed record of 213.40 in the process.
In spite of some problems in the latter part of the season, however, Montecalvo had an excellent first half, and overall, a very good year, capped by a top five finish. Remember, in this sport the big numbers out on the quarter-mile don't remain the domain of 'the few' for very long. There's a long off-season coming up, and you have to know that the lights will be burning long into the winter darkness out on Long Island as John and his team work to even the score in 2001.