Connolly Wins Third Race of Season; Closes in on Pro Stock Lead Dave Connolly was as hot as the 103-degree weather Sunday en route to his third NHRA Pro Stock victory in the last seven races. His hole-shot win over new POWERade Series point...
Connolly Wins Third Race of Season; Closes in on Pro Stock Lead
Dave Connolly was as hot as the 103-degree weather Sunday en route to his third NHRA Pro Stock victory in the last seven races.
His hole-shot win over new POWERade Series point leader Jason Line in the Mopar Mile-High Nationals finale at picturesque Bandimere Speedway simply emphasized how strong his performances have been since Tommy Utt became crew chief of Evan Knoll's SKULL GEAR Chevy Cobalt those seven races ago.
Connolly bolted from the starting line with a near-perfect .008 second reaction time and clicked on the win light 7.173 seconds later (at 193.07 mph) in the thin air here. Line, who beat Connolly in the title round at Englishtown, N.J., two races ago, had the quicker elapsed time at 7.141 seconds at 194.13 mph, but his .091 second start doomed him against one of Pro Stock's best at the line.
"We kind of had a rocky start to the season and it's kind of funny to find ourselves in the points chase now," said Connolly. "But ever since Tommy Utt came aboard the team has really turned around and we've been to four finals and we got three wins. It's good we got the win up here especially because it is one of those races that is so important in the championship chase.
"We came up here two weeks ago and tested for a week and then come back and it's 103 degrees takes a toll on the crew. You want to do the best you can and I'm glad to pay them back with a win."
Thus Connolly, who became the first driver to win more than one race in 2006, becomes the first to triple up. His other victories came at Atlanta (in Utt 's first race calling the shots) and Topeka, Kan. He added another runner-up at Las Vegas.
The stellar showing also boosted the Elyria, Ohio native closer to teammates Line and defending champion Greg Anderson in the championship chase. Connolly remains third with 846 points and now trails Line by 51 points and runner-up Greg Anderson by 30 with 10 of 23 series event to go.
Both drivers Connolly faced in the first two rounds fouled out attempting to get the early edge. He ran 7.132 seconds at 194.13 mph against Max Naylor and 7.144 at 193.82 against V. Gaines.
"The crew saved me in the semifinals and I'm glad I could pay them back in the finals," added Connolly, who had to chase down Greg Stanfield to get the nod by five-thousandths of a second.
Stanfield had a .019 reaction to a .053, but couldn't hold off the SKULL Gear Cobalt's 7.150 at 193.88 to a 7.189 at 192.22. "He tattooed me pretty good but we ended up picking up the win," Connolly said. "This was a good way to start the three in a row."
Temperatures reach the 100-degree mark all three days at Bandimere, easily making it the hottest event of the season.
The second of the Western Swing trio, the Schuck's Auto Supply Nationals, unfolds in Seattle, July 21-23.