Epping: John Montecalvo race report

Montecalvo Flexes Chevy Pro Stock Muscle at Epping, Goes to Final Epping, NH - From the first time Long Island, New York's John Montecalvo sat behind the wheel of his new Cavalier Pro Stock machine, and coaxed the huge Sonny Leonard powerplant...

Montecalvo Flexes Chevy Pro Stock Muscle at Epping, Goes to Final

Epping, NH - From the first time Long Island, New York's John Montecalvo sat behind the wheel of his new Cavalier Pro Stock machine, and coaxed the huge Sonny Leonard powerplant to life, he visualized the year of exciting and successful IHRA national events that surely lay ahead. And, as pre-season testing yielded solid, confidence-building results, the 41-year-old paving contractor didn't expect anything but good luck to follow.

But, as the saying about "best laid plans" goes, once the 2001 season got under way, Montecalvo's Citgo-sponsored Cavalier inexplicably decided to become an uncooperative part of the team. The new car certainly showed signs of its awesome potential in Sunoco Race Fuels Pro Stock competition, but these flashes of brilliance were all too infrequent, and the persistent inconsistency often left the intensely competitive Montecalvo extremely frustrated.

But he's a professional, and as such he eventually realized that new combinations often need to be tweaked and massaged endlessly before the desired results are achieved. And as the season progressed, Montecalvo and the Citgo team stuck to it, slowly but surely getting a handle on their new package.

After the Mopar Parts World Nationals at Norwalk two weeks ago, Montecalvo boldly stated, "We're not going to rest until we're able to run up there with the top guys at every race We know we have a good combination, and just because we haven't been able to wring the maximum out of it yet, nobody should start relaxing. Anybody who takes us lightly will be in for a rude awakening."

How prophetic his words would turn out to be, as his trip to the 6th Annual Amalie Oil North American Nationals would soon bear out. The event, held at New England Dragway in Epping, NH, was one that Montecalvo had won in 1999, and as if he needed any additional incentive, he badly wanted to repeat the earlier performance.

There was a very positive vibe in the Montecalvo pit as John leapt to the top of the field in preliminary qualifying with a 6.663 at 209.33. Showing some all-important consistency, he returned with a 6.664 and ended the first day in third. On Saturday, the New Yorker made a good run in the heat of the day, posting a 6.687, stepping up even more in the final session with a 6.632 at 209.20, good enough for second overall.

In eliminations, Montecalvo dispatched the Camaro of Mike Del Nagro, then the Fords of Carl Baker and Tom Lee to advance to the final against the season dominating Mercury Cougar of Georgia's Gene Wilson. Wilson, arguably the best leaver in the class, fell victim to a holeshot by Montecalvo, .437 to .467, but the Merc's horsepower came on strong, and John's 6.650 at 210.05 was .032 seconds too slow to fend off Wilson's 6.588 at 211.79.

But it was a great race, against the team that's won six of the eight events run this season, and even though Montecalvo fell just short of repeating his '99 victory, he was very pleased with the outcome. "Finally, we were able to do what a race team is supposed to do. We qualified well, with consistent numbers, and were able to concentrate on racing the opposition instead of fighting gremlins. We went rounds, and made it to the final. And I know Gene knew he was in a race - I gave him all he wanted, for sure. You wouldn't believe what a positive impact this has had on this team, and a boost like this will definitely get us psyched for the rest of the year."

For more information on John Montecalvo, log into drag racing's largest Internet magazine at www.competitionplus.com

-CP-

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Series Drag
Drivers Gene Wilson , John Montecalvo