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PDRA Extreme Pro Stock Standouts Shine at NHRA Route 66 Nationals

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, 23rd annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance, held this past weekend in Joliet, Illinois, provided the capacity crowd in attendance with an impressive show – specifically the stars and cars of the series Mountain Motor Pro Stock exhibition, which included a slew of standouts from the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Extreme Pro Stock division.

Five PDRA Extreme Pro Stock competitors made eight-car qualified field in Mountain Motor Pro Stock at Route 66 Raceway. John Montecalvo, Elijah Morton, Tony Gillig, Johnny Pluchino, and Alan Drinkwater proved their prowess on the NHRA stage, much to the pride of the PDRA faithful.

Montecalvo, from Speonk, New York, racing the Roy Hills Drag Racing school 2022 Ford Mustang, led the pack, snagging the number-one qualifying spot with a 6.227-second blast at 225.60 mph. This big accomplishment for Montecalvo, who is only a few months removed from winning the inaugural Mountain Motor Pro Stock Invitational at the World Series of Pro Mod, wasn’t  without a hint of disappointment. Despite having perhaps the best car on the property or at least very close to it, Montecalvo admitted left a lot to be desired.

“Well that was disappointing. We definitely had the car to beat, but I didn’t do the job I’m capable of. Congratulations to Richard [Freeman], Frank [Gugliotta, crew chief], and the Elite Motorsports team. We’ll get them next time,” Montecalvo posted on Facebook in the hours following the race’s conclusion.

Other PDRA competitors were close on Montecalvo’s heels. Elijah Morton of Jacksonville, North Carolina, snagged the number-four spot with a 6.243 second at 226.24 mph. Gillig and Pluchino, who holds two PDRA series champion titles, also made the field, alongside Drinkwater, who rounded out the field with a 6.287-second lap.

Not all PDRA regulars made the final cut, however. Dwayne Rice and Bill Neri, both regular competitors on the PDRA tour, narrowly missed the field. Nonetheless, their participation marked a strong PDRA presence at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals.

The event highlighted a meaningful resurgence in the 800-plus cubic inch variation of Pro Stock over the last two seasons. Participation amongst racers is up across the board as a number of fresh-faced drivers have entered the fold, along with some familiar characters re-entering. Eventual Route 66 Nationals winner Richard Freeman was a regular in IHRA Pro Stock in the late 2000s. 

This story was originally published on May 21, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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