Drag Illustrated Issue 175, March / April 2022 - Page 55

Special Section
win a race . We ’ re just going to do our best not to get caught up in all that and focus on us and try to turn on some win lights .”
There will also be some new looks for existing competitors this season . Gillig , who won the penultimate race last season in his return to the class , has a fresh new red-and-white look for his family ’ s Dayco-backed Pontiac GXP .
Extreme Pro Stock debut in 2021 , will be joined by his brother , Miles , and their grandfather , Kurt Neighbor . Former driver and tuner Cale Aronson has signed on to help oversee the new three-car operation .
But anchoring the Extreme Pro Stock field will be a fleet of longstanding competitors , including the six drivers who attended all eight races in 2021 : defending world champion Chris Powers , Carr , Pluchino , Elijah Morton , 2018 champion Steven Boone , and 2019 champion John Montecalvo .
“ We ’ ve been close , we ’ ve been right with him at times , but he ’ s set the performance standard for the last few years . But there ’ s more than that to it . I have to make sure that every race and every year I ’ m elevating my game as far as the driving department . I ’ m concerned with guys like Tony Gillig , who ’ s going to come out with his hair on fire trying to get his first Pro Stock championship . They ’ re going to be a really tough team . If John DeFlorian comes out for a full season , he ’ s going to be a problem . There ’ s a
number of teams that are really tough out there .”
Carr , who qualified No . 1 at seven of the eight races last season in his Frank Gugliotta-tuned ’ 20 Camaro , agrees that any driver in the qualified field can be a threat come race day .
“ With eighth-mile racing , everything happens so quick ,” Carr says . “ You have to leave the starting line and you have to get to the finish line and you don ’ t have much time to do it . There ’ s nobody that can ’ t
Powers will also have a new look , as he plans to run the brand-new Haas-built Sonny ’ s Racing Engines Camaro that he brought out in testing last year . Preseason testing numbers indicate that it has the potential to carry him to another world championship .
“ We ’ re definitely motivated , I would say more than we were last year ,” Powers says . “ We ’ re going to work twice as hard to try to get this car up to speed . It looks pretty promising . So far it ’ s run quicker than the previous car did with the same engine package . I ’ m grateful for Chuck [ Samuel , tuner ] and Rob [ Bealko ] sticking with me . Sonny ’ s is working on some new engine power . We ’ re just excited to get out there and make some laps .”
It ’ s a competitive group , and they were shaken up last year when parttime competitors Justin Kirk , Tony Gillig , and John DeFlorian each won events , making for six different winners in eight races . That level of competition will only get tougher this season .
“ I ’ m not going to overlook anybody because we all have similar stuff ,” says Pluchino when asked about competitors he has an eye on . “ That ’ s the beauty about Mountain Motor Pro Stock . We all have similar stuff , it just depends on how you use it and drive it and tune it . Every single person can beat you at any given time .
“ But with that being said , I ’ m watching JR ,” Pluchino continued .
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