Dave Connolly Surprise Pro Stock Winner at Southern Nationals A team in transition a week ago became a team of destiny Sunday night when Dave Connolly drove to a most improbable NHRA Pro Stock victory at the Summit Racing Equipment Southern...
Dave Connolly Surprise Pro Stock Winner at Southern Nationals
A team in transition a week ago became a team of destiny Sunday night when Dave Connolly drove to a most improbable NHRA Pro Stock victory at the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Connolly's SKULL GEAR Chevrolet Cobalt team did not qualify last week at Bristol, Tenn., and this was Tommy Utt's first race as crew chief. Connolly qualified 14th, yet still marched to the sixth victory of his career in 15 finals, using a major dose of driving talent and a race car good enough to get to the finish line first.
In the money round, however, good fortune smiled on Connolly. Greg Stanfield, the No. 16 qualifier, left the starting line first with a quick .014 of a second reaction to Connolly's .038.
"About then I was thinking 'how could I have messed this up?'" he said. About the same time, Stanfield's car moved around the lane and Connolly drove by, clinching his first win since April 2005 at Las Vegas. He won with a 6.695-second, 205.69-mph run to Stanfield's 7.531 at 127.34.
The win came just a few days after team owner Evan Knoll's birthday. " Winning on Evan's birthday weekend means a lot to me," Connolly continued. " That man has done so much for me it's the least I could do.
"We had an awesome weekend. The team saved my hide a lot today. I was late (off the starting line) in the final and Greg was good but we were able to drive around him. The team effect came into play. We relied on the car to save the driver and the driver to save the car. That's when you start winning races."
Give Connolly credit for his first-round triumph over No. 3 qualifier Jason Line. Connolly's .008 reaction (.000 is perfect) helped his 6.702-second run defeated Line's 6.690.
"He got me the first round and I got him the second one," said Utt, who had been tuning the engine before taking over as crew chief.
Connolly's other round wins came over Allen Johnson in the second round (6.716 to 6.766) and Larry Morgan in the semifinals (6.696 to 6.705).
The sudden success lifted Connolly into ninth place in POWERade Series points with 338. Parity in Pro Stock is at an all-time high. He is the seventh different driver to win in seven races.
Oddly enough, this was the team's second final in three races. Connolly was second at Las Vegas last month.
He'll be going to two wins in a row when the team returns to competition in the Pontiac Performance Nationals, May 19-21, at Columbus, Ohio.