After 2 rounds of qualifying, the well-traveled racing team of Corinne & Brian MacMillan from Ajax, Ontario, Canada sat atop the qualifying order with their beautiful 1968 Camaro with a 9.905 elapsed time (ET) on the 9.90 Super Rod index, earning themselves the 10 point bonus for being #1 qualifier. Gregoire found himself sitting in the number 9 position, which wasn’t exactly where he had hoped to start eliminations. With lane choice going to the higher qualified car, Jeff figured that he’d probably be giving up lane choice more times than not. But, as luck would have it, Gregoire ended up with lane choice in 4 of his 5 rounds of competition, which certainly didn’t hurt his chances on this day.
Round 1 of eliminations saw Jeff Gregoire take on John Cira from Rochester, NY in his familiar “Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” ’68 Chevrolet Nova. Cira left the starting line first, but Gregoire forced Cira to go quicker than the 9.90 Super Rod index with a run of 9.866 seconds, giving the victory back to Gregoire with his 9.919 ET. Additional round 1 highlights included Super Rod veteran Jerry Stoutenberg of Rush, NY in his 1964 Plymouth Valiant disposing of #1 qualifier Corinne MacMillan, and Jon Pellicane of Attica, NY defeating Mark Herbold from Elma, NY in the battle of late model Chevy Corvettes. In his victory over Herbold, Pellicane put together a stout 0.020 “package” (total amount of time away from a perfect run, calculated using the racer’s reaction time at the starting line and elapsed time), which ended up earning him a $50 gift certificate from Jiffy-Tite Corporation for the best winning package of the event.
In the 2nd round of eliminations, Gregoire was matched up against #5 qualifier and perennial contender Jon Jablonski of Alden, NY in his 1967 Chevy Nova. Gregoire had a slight lead as they left starting line, and he was able to parlay that into a win when Jablonski got out of shape and had to lift to avoid wrecking his freshly painted ride. Also advancing from round 2 were the aforementioned Jerry Stoutenberg and Jon Pellicane, as well as Tommy Allen of West Seneca, NY in his 1998 Chevy Cavalier, and Jeff Gregoire’s first cousin once removed, Matt Gregoire of Blasdell, NY, with his immaculate 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS.
In the quarterfinals, Jeff Gregoire used an excellent .007 reaction time to take a significant starting line advantage over competitor Tommy Allen. With his very close to perfect 9.899 elapsed time, Gregoire was able to hold off the hard-charging Allen when he went even quicker with a 9.896 ET in the double-breakout race. With Matt Gregoire having a bye-run (single), that left Pellicane battling Stoutenberg for the third and final spot in the semifinals. Pellicane had a small lead as he and Stoutenberg left the starting line, with reaction times of .018 and .031, respectively. But, once Pellicane coupled that reaction time to his excellent elapsed time of 9.903, he mathematically eliminated any chance that Stoutenberg had of winning. In the loss, Stoutenberg finished his evening with a very competitive 9.895 ET.
With 3 cars left in the semifinals, Jeff Gregoire received the bye-run into the finals, which set up the potential for an all Gregoire final if Matt could get past Jon Pellicane. As one might imagine though, Pellicane wasn’t exactly willing to let that happen without a fight. When the green lights flashed for both drivers, Pellicane had the slimmest of starting line advantages with his reaction time of .010 as compared to the .015 reaction time of Matt Gregoire. As he had been doing all day, Pellicane again ran very close to the index with a slightly too quick 9.897 elapsed time. Gregoire was able to get to the finish line first, but in doing so he ran a much too quick elapsed time of 9.851 seconds, handing the victory to Pellicane.
This set up the finals between Jeff Gregoire and Jon Pellicane. Based upon how they had run throughout eliminations, Pellicane probably would have been considered the favorite given the consistent excellent runs that he had strung together to reach the finals. But, the veteran Gregoire certainly wasn’t intimidated as he knew he had just as good a chance at winning as Pellicane. When the cars left the starting line, Pellicane had a slight .009 second advantage with his .028 reaction time versus the .037 reaction time of Gregoire. As the cars approached the finish line, Gregoire was ahead but Pellicane was closing fast, and by the time they reached the stripe it was Pellicane who got there first. However, this was to be another double-breakout affair, with Gregoire taking the win with his slower but closer to the index elapsed time of 9.897 seconds over Pellicane’s too quick ET of 9.874 seconds.
In taking the victory, Gregoire was quick to thank Jim and Jamie Stoneman for allowing him to use their race truck for the day. “Obviously this would not have been possible without Jim and Jamie’s truck, and they gave me a great hot rod today,” said Gregoire. Gregoire added, “I’d also like to thank Phil Harnden and Jason Oldfield of the Western New York Super Rod Association for all of their hard work in putting this great series together.” In addition, Gregoire wanted to thank Tom Coonly and Mike Zak for their help throughout the day, his girlfriend Renee for her support, Joe Passero of Rosehill Auction House, Jason Vitez of Vitez Race Cars, and his mom, Pat, and dad, Phil, who were able to be in attendance to watch their son race to victory.
Race two of the 8 race Tread City Tire / Western New York Super Rod Association series will take place on Saturday, June 28th, again at Empire Dragway in Leicester, NY. Gates open at noon, with open time trials for all competitors starting at 1 pm. WNYSRA qualifying sessions are currently scheduled for 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm, with final eliminations slated to start at 5:00 pm. For more information, visit at the WNYSRA website at http://www.wnysra.com.