Series Pro Stock news 2009-07-14

Pro Stock rookies team up for second half of season With IHRA veterans dominating the Elite Motorsports Pro Stock ranks through the first half of the season, two rookie teams have decided to pair up for the second portion of the 2009 Nitro Jam...

Pro Stock rookies team up for second half of season

With IHRA veterans dominating the Elite Motorsports Pro Stock ranks through the first half of the season, two rookie teams have decided to pair up for the second portion of the 2009 Nitro Jam schedule.

Rookie drivers Mark Martino and Cale Aronson have combined their operations in an attempt to better compete with the upper echelon of Pro Stock teams over the second half of the season, starting right in Martino's backyard at the MOPAR Canadian Nationals this weekend at the Grand Bend Motorplex in Grand Bend, Ontario.

"We have been waiting all year to race back home, it is a pretty exciting time for us," Martino said. "I met Cale last year and this year we have become pretty good friends. I think this will give us a bit of a boost going up against the bigger teams. It will be nice to share data and I think it will make everyone's life a little easier."

Martino, a Stoney Creek, Ontario native, has had a tremendous start in his first full season of Elite Motorsports Pro Stock competition. Martino, who got his start racing in Ontario, made it all the way to the semifinal round at the season opening Mardi Gras Nationals in Baton Rouge and has been building on that success ever since.

Martino is currently eighth in the Pro Stock standings, 142 points back of leader Frank Gugliotta.

"It has been a combination of things. Steve Spiess helped us out at the beginning of the year at Rockingham and Dallas and I got Eric Luzinski to help us out in Tulsa and he put us back where we need to be," Martino said. "Kaase has been giving us really good power and Eric is going to be helping us the rest of the year. We really didn't expect this kind of success this early."

Just behind Martino in ninth is Missouri native Cale Aronson.

Aronson has struggled through the first half of the year, winning just two rounds and qualifying no higher than ninth, but hopes that this new partnership will help both teams as the two young drivers try to find their footing in the most competitive class in all of drag racing.

"Two of the sports younger blooded racers are coming together to work as a team against a lot of hard hitting veterans and I think it is going to be a great opportunity for both of us," Aronson said.

The partnership is also a chance to keep Aronson racing while he awaits the arrival of his new car. Aronson recently sold his Jerry Haas built Ford Escort in preparation for building a new 2010 Mustang in conjunction with Ford Racing.

Aronson had made preparations to sit out over the next few events to rebuild and update many of the team's parts in anticipation of the 2010 season, but was approached in Tulsa with a plan to keep the young driver on the track through the next few races and maybe the rest of the 2009 season.

"Martino approached us two weeks after Tulsa and offered to allow us to use his Escort over the next few events," Aronson said. "I am really looking forward to working with Mark and his team as they are very similar to our own.

"We are both family operations with a father-son deal so we understand how much hard work goes into these types of efforts."

Despite the close bond between the two drivers, it hasn't always been the best relationship on the track as the two rookies have faced off three times in four races.

Martino eliminated Aronson at two of the first three events on the schedule while Aronson got a bit of revenge at the most recent race at Tulsa.

Both drivers, however, are still left chasing down Gugliotta.

Gugliotta has amassed 325 points through the first four races of the season, leaving him a mere three-points ahead of two-time world champion Pete Berner. Another four points back of Berner in third is Cary Goforth (318). John Montecalvo (262) and Jason Collins (219) round out the Pro Stock top five going into Grand Bend.

"The first half of the schedule was rough as far as traveling goes but it gets a lot easier in the second half because the races are a lot closer," Martino said. "Hopefully if we keep qualifying well and maybe win a few races we can keep this momentum going. It would be nice to finish in the top five."

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers John Montecalvo , Jerry Haas , Steve Spiess , Mark Martin , Frank Gugliotta