Dave Connolly Hopes to Rediscover Winning Ways at U.S. Nationals SKULL GEAR Pro Stock Team Wants to Shake Out of Slump Given a choice, Dave Connolly and the SKULL GEAR Chevrolet Cobalt Pro Stock team would prefer to emulate their first nine...
Dave Connolly Hopes to Rediscover Winning Ways at U.S. Nationals
SKULL GEAR Pro Stock Team Wants to Shake Out of Slump
Given a choice, Dave Connolly and the SKULL GEAR Chevrolet Cobalt Pro Stock team would prefer to emulate their first nine 2005 races rather than their last eight in the remaining six events on the NHRA schedule.
In those initial outings, Connolly won two races, was second twice and totaled 18 wins in 24 elimination rounds. Since then, the ledger shows an 8-7 eliminations record and five consecutive starts outside the top eight qualifiers. It's a slump the 22-year-old driver hasn't had to deal with in the last 40 races covering 2004 and 2005.
A test session that produced positive results last week at Indianapolis Raceway Park, site of NHRA's 51st annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Sept. 2-5, provided a spark as Connolly, crew chief Terry Adams and engine builder Bill"Grumpy" Jenkins prepared for the annual showdown, dubbed NHRA's most prestigious event.
"I think Grump learned a few things (during the test session)," Connolly said. "We tried different headers, carburetors and four-links, and he'll keep fine-tuning that until we get to Indy. We are definitely running better than we were before."
The temptation to equate the downswing to the change in cars, from the Chevy Cavalier that accounted for all five of Connolly's career victories and 11 of his 13 final rounds would be easy. But it's not that simple.
"The car ran real well at Columbus (Ohio) and Topeka (Kansas)," said Adams. "We were No. 2 qualifier at Topeka and went to the finals there. We just haven't been as competitive since we hurt the motor at Chicago."
That came in the special King Demon Crown race June 11 at Joliet, Ill. Connolly did win the $50,000 top prize, but the performance didn't rebound. In the next seven races, Connolly only qualified in the top eight once. He was 15th, 12th and 15th in the outings before failing to qualify at Memphis (Aug. 21).
"We were consistent during qualifying but we still need more power before we'll be able to run with the top cars at Indy," added Adams.
Nevertheless, Connolly has held onto fifth place in POWERade Series points with 1043.
Connolly will have five qualifying runs to get that coveted berth in the top eight, beginning with Friday's 6:15 p.m. session. Saturday's sessions will be at 1:15 and 6:15 p.m. and Sunday's are set at 12:45 and 4:10 p.m. Monday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.