CHARLOTTE - Industrial Distribution Group (IDG) driver Dave Connolly is Pro Stock's Renaissance Man.
For starters, he serves as crew chief alongside Tommy Utt for Erica Enders, who is a leading contender for the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series championship in the class.
But in addition to those full-time duties, Connolly remains a driver to beat when he competes in Pro Stock, as he proved when he won last weekend's 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Connolly returns behind the wheel of the IDG Chevrolet for this weekend's O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway.
"I love driving," Connolly said. "These things are a lot of fun, and that's what I grew up doing. At the age of 10, I was with my father at the race track. By 15, I was driving 7-second dragsters. I grew up behind the wheel, but I've always been hands-on as a mechanic. I love the technical side of a Pro Stock car. They're amazing."
Connolly, 29, credits the veteran Utt for helping him become a better crew chief this season, as Enders has won three races and moved to fourth in the points standings as the Countdown to the Championship begins.
"Staying outside the car has been a learning experience," Connolly said. "It's 10 times harder than driving because there are so many ingredients to getting the car to run down. It's a lot more hard work than just jumping in the seat and driving. I've taken a lot of enjoyment out of it. It's been a roller coaster, a learning curve, and I've been beating my head against the wall. I've got gray hair now before I'm even 30. But I wouldn't give it back for nothing."
Connolly isn't in the Countdown as he's only raced three times this year. But he's raced to the final round in two of those events, proving he's still sharp as a driver.
He'll race at Charlotte this weekend, followed by Dallas, St. Louis and Reading as Enders' GK Motorsports teammate.
"We're going to go out there and have some fun," said Connolly, who now has 23 career Pro Stock victories. "We definitely need to fix this car. It's not quite the race car we're looking for right now. But that's part of the challenge. Pro Stock is like an ongoing science project. We'll work in it and get it figured out."
Source: GK Motorsports