Montecalvo Finishes on High Note in Louisiana; Already Looking Ahead to 2002 Season. Shreveport, LA - Isn't it amazing how one outstanding weekend of racing can put an entire season into perspective? This is especially true if the event is the...
Montecalvo Finishes on High Note in Louisiana; Already Looking Ahead to 2002 Season.
Shreveport, LA - Isn't it amazing how one outstanding weekend of racing can put an entire season into perspective? This is especially true if the event is the final one of the year - the all-important jumping-off point for subsequent pursuits of championship glory.
For Long Island, New York IHRA Pro Stock veteran John Montecalvo, carrying a positive outlook into the 2002 season is extremely important, based on the trials and tribulations he's had to tolerate since the 2001 season kicked off back in late March. Working for months to sort out his new Citgo-sponsored Chevrolet Cavalier, the 42 year-old paving contractor is gratified to see his team's hard work pay off, even if they only realized their true performance potential during the last few races on the schedule.
Better late than never, however, which is a sentiment that Montecalvo wholeheartedly endorses. "It's been a real grind at times this year," he freely admitted, "but we knew this blend of a Rick Jones car and Sonny Leonard power had the makings of a top contender. What made it especially tough on everyone was the fact that we had some outstanding results during winter testing, but lost the combination once the season got under way."
The Montecalvo crew stuck with it, however, and at the Amalie Oil North American Nationals in Epping, New Hampshire in early September, Montecalvo began his march to future prominence by pounding his way into a final round showdown against the season-dominating Mercury Cougar of Gene Wilson. One race later, at the CARQUEST Autumn Nationals at Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina, he again went to the final, and again his opponent was Wilson. And although Montecalvo came away with runner-up honors both times, the real reward was the confidence he and his crew at last had in their combination.
At this weekend's 4th annual Mopar Parts World Finals at Red River Raceway in Shreveport, Louisiana, they proved that they were for real and looking for a large helping of delayed gratification. In Friday's first qualifying session, Montecalvo brought his red, white and blue Cavalier to the line with every intention of taking a shot at the top half of the field. Soon, everyone else knew his intentions as well, as his imposing 6.580 at 210.97 secured the number 2 spot. He held the position throughout the day, locking it in with a pass of 6.590 at 211.06 in the evening session.
With his best effort of the season nicely taking shape, a determined Montecalvo continued to crank out 6.5-second passes, closing out Saturday's preliminaries with a stellar 6.579 at 210.83, which put him in the fourth spot heading into the money rounds on Sunday.
The first to feel the unfettered force of the sleek little Chevy was number 13 qualifier Charlie Peppers, who left behind Montecalvo and then fought an ill-handling car while the New Yorker cruised straight down the groove and lit the boards with a solid 6.579 at 210.83. Next up was the number 5 man, Tim Nabors. Lost in the 'fifties and loving it, Montecalvo moved on to the semi-finals after dispatching his opponent with a mark of 6.582 at 211.13. In the third stanza, his magic weekend came to an end, but Montecalvo fought tooth and nail to the very end. Facing newly crowned 2001 champion Wilson once again, he cut the better light, 0.422 to 0.444, but his string of 6.5's was over, and Wilson drove by at the top end to take the round, 6.562/212.19 to 6.610/211.
Of course, the perfect end to the story would have been a final round victory, but this is real life, not Hollywood, and Montecalvo was more than pleased with the results the team had garnered in the late stages of the season. "We knew we had the equipment to challenge the top people in Pro Stock this year," he said. "We just got off to a bad start, and had to play catch-up for quite a while. But it's a credit to this team and to everyone involved in creating this great program that we were able to got a handle on everything and finish up strong. The season has just ended, and I'm already anxious to get out there again. I'm telling you right now that things are going to be different in 2002."
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