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Paige Montgomery On a Roll in Junior Dragster

Friday, 13 October 2017

Racers never know when they might “get on a roll.”  When they do, they know to enjoy it while it lasts because it never does, but this year, for Paige Montgomery, it lasted all the way to the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit Sportsman National Championship Junior Dragster World Championship.  Montgomery’s season started on a roll, and she never looked back.  Late last month, she hoisted the IHRA World Championship Ironman trophy. 

“It’s pretty cool,” Montgomery said.  “Everyone at school is like, ‘No, you’re kidding.’ Then I pull up IHRA and show them, and they can’t believe it.  It actually went around my school, and everyone was pretty excited about it; it’s a big deal, and it’s pretty cool.  In my school, most people around my area are farmers; race car drivers are unique to the area.  They all think it’s pretty cool because the only other racers in my school are go-kart racers, and that’s completely different from drag racing so when people find out I drag race, it’s a really big deal.  My teachers are all amazed with it and ask me a whole bunch of questions about it.”

“When I’m in the car, it’s really calming, actually.  Sometimes before a race, you’ll get really nervous, but once the car starts up, it’s just me in the car, and everything kind of comes to you.  It just makes sense.  When you’re in there, you’re doing what you always do.  It just feels natural.”

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Montgomery is a high school senior from Alden, N.Y. just outside Buffalo; she plans to begin college next year and is considering a career in chemical engineering.  Winter is long in upstate New York; Montgomery and her father, Shawn planned to start their season at a local race the first week of May and did not plan to travel to the Summit Sportsman National Championship weekend at Maryland International Raceway, but as she did so many times this season, Mother Nature intervened.  Because of persistent rain, the Maryland race weekend moved to July so father and daughter added it to the schedule. 

“We went to Keystone Raceway Park near Pittsburgh and made it to the semifinals,” Paige’s father Shawn Montgomery said. “The next day she was the runner-up so it was a really good start to the season. The car was running pretty well so the very next weekend, we went down to Maryland, and she pretty much won every round she raced.  She won day No. 1, they had their own points race that night, and she went to the final and then she won the next day so that pretty much set our season for us.  She doubled up at Empire Dragway (in Leicester, N.Y.), our home track, a few weeks later, and that pretty much wrapped up the title for us.  We really appreciate Mike Bos, Scott Jahren Custom Paint Fred Claw at Craw’s Racing – we couldn’t have done this without them.” 

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Montgomery reached the final weekend of the season tied with Nicholas Ferraro from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., but Ferraro was out of claims so he did not travel to the season’s final weekend at Dragway 42 in West Salem, Ohio, he could not improve his position.  Montgomery merely needed to show up to clinch the title. 

“When we went up into the lanes the first time (at Dragway 42) and saw the other kid that could have won it wasn’t there, we knew we’d won it,” Paige said.  “Then it was kind of ‘just another race.’ It was important, but we weren’t as nervous because it was just a race.  We’re still going to Memphis (IHRA Summit World Finals Oct. 20-22), and that’s a big deal, too, so now we’re getting ready for that.”

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“It’s really pretty amazing,” Dad said.  “It really hasn’t sunk in because we’re still racing.  We thought it was a longshot to finish top three because it’s tough competition, but once we went to Maryland, we realized we were in contention and had a really good shot.  It really is amazing; it’s incredible and hard to believe she’ll be the No. 1 car next year.  It’s really impressive.”

How does one define ‘getting on a roll?’ Perhaps it’s points claims of four wins, a runner-up, and two semifinals – a roll indeed. 

Last modified on Friday, 13 October 2017

 

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