Columbus: GM Racing Friday summary

Dave Connolly's Chevy Cobalt Posts Pro Stock E.T. Record at National Trail Jason Line's Pontiac GTO Sets Speed Mark COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 19, 2006 - The first day of qualifying for the 42nd annual Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals presented...

Dave Connolly's Chevy Cobalt Posts Pro Stock E.T. Record at National Trail

Jason Line's Pontiac GTO Sets Speed Mark

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 19, 2006 - The first day of qualifying for the 42nd annual Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals presented by Summit Racing was completed today at National Trail Raceway. After two rounds of time trials Dave Connolly is the provisional pole sitter in a Chevy Cobalt after establishing a track-record elapsed time of 6.693 seconds at a speed of 205.94 mph. He had the quickest elapsed time in both of today's qualifying sessions.

"We made a decent start in the first session, and got some good data," said Connolly. "We fixed a few problems in low gear and made a beautiful run tonight with our Chevy Cobalt. Our crew chief, Tommy Utt, has worked hard all week getting this racecar prepared, it definitely paid off.

"We had a problem with a fuse right before the first qualifying session - a 50-cent part. The car wouldn't start, but Warren (Johnson) was a gentleman and waited on us as long as he could. We shortened up the burnout, the car went down the track and we got enough data to come back tonight, which will probably be the best session of the weekend. It's been awhile since we've run like this and we're hoping we can hang on to the No. 1 spot."

The 23-year-old native of Elyria, Ohio, is coming off his most recent win two weeks ago at Atlanta Dragway, and is looking to capture his first raceday pole since a No. 1 qualifying effort at Bristol, Tenn. in April of 2005. Connolly's best Sunday effort at National Trail Raceway came in 2004 when he was runner-up to Greg Anderson.

"I have a lot of friends and family who came in today, and they'll be here the rest of the weekend," said Connolly. "I'm excited about running in front of our home crowd, and it would be nice to go a few rounds on Sunday. That's what we'll be shooting for.

"There are a lot of great teams that could step up and knock us off our high horse. We may be No.1 right now, but that's only by eight-thousandths of a second and that's pretty easy to make up on Sunday, or even tomorrow morning depending on how good the air is. We're excited about the way this Chevy Cobalt is running and we'll just keep plugging away."

The quickest Pontiac GTO in the 16-car field tonight belongs to Jason Line who slipped into the No. 2 qualifying spot with a 6.701 e.t. at a track-record top speed of 206.16 mph.

"That's not bad," said Line. "There's definitely still room for improvement, but it's getting better. We need to step it up a little bit, for sure, but all in all not a bad way to start. We've certainly started off worse than this before, and luckily we dodged the rain for awhile and hopefully it will stay away for the rest of the weekend."

The No. 3 qualifying position belongs to points leader Greg Anderson, who drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to an identical elapsed time to teammate Jason Line's 6.701 second run, but a slower speed at 205.60 mph.

"We're definitely going the right way," said Anderson. "We're gaining on it, we're gaining on the setup for the racetrack. We didn't make a very good, clean run on our first run. We got at least halfway home on the second run and got ourselves solidly qualified without a doubt. It's a little bummer that we didn't get the pole, but so far this season that pole hasn't been working out so great for us anyway, I guess, on raceday. Maybe that's what we needed. Both cars got quicker that run and we got closer to the setup, and hopefully tomorrow we can hit the target, hit the bullseye."

Qualifying coverage of the Pontiac Performance Nationals presented by Summit Racing will be telecast on ESPN2 on Saturday, May 20, beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern. A three-hour broadcast of final eliminations can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday, May 21, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern.

-gm racing-

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