DARLINGTON, SC - It might have been a testing session in preparation for the upcoming season, but by judging the spectator count, this was more than just practice. One complete side of the grandstands at Darlington Dragway was completely full as...
DARLINGTON, SC - It might have been a testing session in preparation for the upcoming season, but by judging the spectator count, this was more than just practice. One complete side of the grandstands at Darlington Dragway was completely full as the CompetitionPlus.Com Groundhog Warm-up presented by Majesty Homes was deemed to be a rousing success. A full day of competitive qualifying runs culminated in impressive wins in the special "Chicago Style" format by Harold Martin (Pro Modified), John Montecalvo (Pro Stock) and Tim Freeman (Pro Stock Truck).
Harold Martin scored his first career victory at Darlington Dragway. The former General Motors engineer could do no wrong on Saturday as he recorded the second quickest lap of the final session and then nabbed the automatic victory when Mike Castellana went red in the final round. Martin qualified for the final round of the "Chicago Style" eliminations with a 6.347. Castellana was the quicker of the two with a 6.329.
Martin never looked back in the finals as he scored the win in his electronic fuel-injected, AC-Delco-sponsored Pontiac with a 6.422/212.66.
Martin explained, "It was a hard fought battle and I am excited about starting off the season with a win at such a prestigious event. We wanted to solidify a set-up for some of the cooler ambient temperature conditions. We're pleased that we were able to do that. We worked our way up the ladder and ended up on top."
Montecalvo was determined to leave Darlington with a win at the Groundhog Warm-up. The Center Moriches, NY.-based, asphalt company owner pushed his Citgo-sponsored, Chevrolet Monte Carlo to the win over a determined Dwayne Rice. Montecalvo paced the show all day on Saturday with a 6.633. Rice pushed his Pontiac to a 6.68 during the final session to earn a berth in the finals. Montecalvo won the battle of reflexes on the starting line and led Rice for the duration of the quarter-mile with a 6.616/208.28, the quickest run of the entire event since Thursday. Rice was not to be denied and gave a relentless pursuit with a 6.705/207.90.
The win was something that Montecalvo had been looking for since becoming the first Pro Stocker into the 6.5-second range, a feat also achieved at Darlington.
"To me, this is a good way to start," explained Montecalvo. "We made good consistent passes. I think this did a good job in getting the cobwebs out of the driver. I'm real happy with my team and Sonny Leonard, my engine builder. This gives us some momentum going into the new season."
Tim Freeman of Roan Mountain, Tn., scored the Pro Stock Truck title with a 7.649/175.78 while driving Larry Kopp's Chevrolet S-10 Pro Stock Truck.
Performance Ratings After Second Day Of Testing
1. Mike Castellana - 6.329/222.88 2. Harold Martin - 6.347/221.02 3. Mitch Stott - 6.376/220.94 4. Ronnie Hood - 6.378/220.94 5. Rickie Smith - 6.431/218.55 6. Ed Hoover - 6.448/217.39 7. Todd Tutterow - 6.454/216.34 8. Dale Brinsfield - 6.544/216.65
1. John Montecalvo - 6.633/207.99 2. Dwayne Rice - 6.682/207.08 3. Chris Holbrook - 6.721/207.94 4. Gene Wilson - 6.724/207.25 5. Floyd Cheek - 6.769/205.54 6. Robert Killian - 6.800/201.25 7. Doug Patton - 6.865/201.25
Pro Stock Truck
1. Tim Freeman 7.649/175.78