Team Chevy Dominates Sunday Action at Lucas Oil Nationals Tommy Johnson wins in Funny Car; Dave Connolly Captures Pro Stock; Manzo, Fletcher, Biondo, Edwards Score Sportsman Victories BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 13, 2006 - It was a dominating...
Team Chevy Dominates Sunday Action at Lucas Oil Nationals
Tommy Johnson wins in Funny Car; Dave Connolly Captures Pro Stock; Manzo, Fletcher, Biondo, Edwards Score Sportsman Victories
BRAINERD, Minn., Aug. 13, 2006 - It was a dominating afternoon of NHRA drag racing for Team Chevy at the 25th annual Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. A formidable red bowtie contingent captured victories in six of the categories contested including wins in Pro Funny Car (Johnson), Pro Stock (Connolly), Top Alcohol Funny Car (Manzo), Stock (Biondo), Super Stock (Fletcher) and Super Comp (Edwards).
Tommy Johnson Jr. earned his second win of the season and gave the Monte Carlo its sixth nitro Funny Car victory of 2006 by defeating Gary Scelzi in the final round of the Lucas Oil Nationals. The Don Prudhomme-owned Chevrolet was clearly the class of the field on raceday with the 38-year-old Johnson marching through the eliminator with an impressive, consistent performance that included the low elapsed time of the meet in the championship heat.
Qualified in the No. 5 position, Johnson defeated Gary Densham in round one with a 4.817 e.t at 321.96 mph, Eric Medlen in round two with a 4.768 e.t. at 320.05 mph, and the CSK Chevrolet of Del Worsham in round three with a 4.772 e.t. at 322.73 mph. In the finals against Scelzi, the Skoal Racing Chevrolet posted the quickest lap of the weekend with a winning 4.741-second run at 321.73 mph to give Johnson his first career victory at BIR. Scelzi's Dodge hazed the tires just short of the 330-foot marker and coasted to a time of 7.387 seconds at 112.75 mph.
"I saw sprinkles on the windshield when I was backing up from the burnout and I stepped on it because I was so ready to race I wanted to get it done," said Johnson. "This win is a credit to the crew. It was a long wait (during the rain delay), and then we had 65-minute rounds so it was a thrash. Before the semi's we tried to start the car and nothing happened. They changed the entire ignition system in minutes."
It was Johnson's third final-round appearance at BIR (he was runner-up in Funny Car in 1995 and in Top Fuel in 1993), his sixth career victory as a nitro Funny Car driver, and his eighth combined career win in the nitro categories. It is also the Avon, Ind., resident's first multiple-win season since 1999.
"This win started in Q1," said Johnson. "We've struggled in qualifying in the first round and that's what sets the tone for the weekend. Here we were able to run good in Q1 and then go for it Friday night. We were qualified third then so we were able to experiment with stuff Saturday. It definitely helped today."
Dave Connolly picked up his fourth win of 2006 (the most so far in the Pro Stock category this year) by defeating Jason Line in an all-GM final round. Connolly's Chevrolet entered raceday qualified in the lucky No. 13 position. The 23-year-old Ohio native defeated Tom Martino in round one with a 6.770 e.t. at 202.79 mph (Connolly's 100th career round win), Greg Stanfield in round two with 6.750 e.t. at 203.40 mph and Greg Anderson in the semifinals with a 6.761 e.t. at 203.61 mph. In the finals against Line, Connolly's Cobalt busted out of the starting blocks with a blistering-quick .013 reaction time. The Chevrolet held off the hard-charging Summit Racing Pontiac and crossed the finish line with a winning 6.743-second run at 204.17 mph, .033-of-a-second ahead of Line's GTO.
"I had a pretty good feeling about the car after our fourth qualifying run," said Connolly. "Everything just seemed to be clicking for us today. Tommy (Utt) did a great job on our Cobalt, (engine builder) Victor Cagnazzi's guys did a great job with the motor . . . and I actually drove four good rounds."
It marked the third time this season that Connolly's Chevrolet and Line's Pontiac had faced off in a final round, with Line winning at Englishtown (N.J.), and Connolly taking the last two at Denver and at BIR today. It was also Connolly's ninth career win and his second victory at the Lucas Oil Nationals (his first victory here was in 2004).
"The team really came through because we were delayed by rain and NHRA was hustling us up between rounds," said Connolly. "Fortunately for us, my dad (Ray) was here and he helped out and nothing fell off the car on any of the runs.
"We finally put four good runs together today. I figured I needed to get two or three hundredths to have a chance in the final and I got four. This is big for me because it's my fourth win of the year and I've never won that many races in a single season since I've been a pro."
In Top Alcohol Funny Car, No. 1 qualifier Frank Manzo defeated Cy Chesterman in an all-Chevrolet Monet Carlo final round. In the championship heat against Chesterman. Manzo's Chevrolet posted the top speed of the weekend at 259.71 mph to go along with his 5.625 e.t. Chesterman's Chevrolet crossed the finish line in 7.228 seconds at 118.41 mph.
Other Chevrolet winners today included Dan Fletcher in Super Stock, Peter Biondo in Stock and Terry Edwards in Super Comp.
The next stop on the 23-event NHRA POWERade tour is the O'Reilly Mid South Nationals on Aug. 18-20 at Memphis Motorsports Park in Memphis, Tenn.
-credit: gm racing