Dave Connolly wins NHRA New England Nationals
Dave Connolly and the Gray Motorsports Pro Stock team put together an amazing set of passes on raceday at the 2nd annual NHRA New England Nationals, and their strenuous efforts were rewarded as Connolly powered the Charter Communications Chevrolet Camaro to the winner's circle. The victory was the 24th of Connolly's career and his first of the year. The win also marked a momentous occasion, as it was the product of the very first all-Gray Motorsports Pro Stock final round.
"I'm not going to lie, I'm surprised it took us so long," said Connolly, who has reached a remarkable 42 Pro Stock final rounds in a career that started in Chicago in 2003. "The talent pool is deep within this team, and we all had high expectations coming into this season because we know what Gray Motorsports is capable of. The team has been digging and digging and digging since we were assembled, but the class is just so tough right now. Today was no different, but our Charter Communications Chevrolet Camaro jumped out there and was low for every round. I attribute that to the team. It's great to be part of this."
Starting from the No. 3 position, Connolly began his speedy forward march to the final round with a first-round victory over Kenny Delco, who broke before the run. Connolly took the single in spectacular fashion, clearing the finish line in 6.513-second at 213.23 mph, a time that stood as the quickest pass of eliminations. In round two, Connolly raced to a head-turning 6.526, 212.93 in his defeat of Vincent Nobile's 6.562, 213.13. The quarterfinals win paired the surging driver with Greg Anderson in the semis for the first time this season, and Connolly disposed of his challenger handily as he launched first and clocked a 6.517, 213.23 to 6.549, 212.93.
Clearly on a tear, Connolly had one more opponent to knock out in order to grab the coveted Wally trophy, and the only man standing in his way was his own Gray Motorsports teammate, rookie of the year contender Jonathan Gray. He knew Gray would be no easy draw; just last week, the newest member of the Gray Motorsports team reached his first final round.
Connolly was out of the gate first with a .019-second reaction time and cleared the finish line with air to spare, slamming a 6.536 at 213.23 on the scoreboard to defeat Gray's 6.577, 213.16.
"Jonathan has done an extremely good job from day one since he jumped into a Pro Stock car this year in Gainesville," said Connolly, No. 6 in NHRA's Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock standings. "He's doing a great job behind the wheel and that shows with making two Pro Stock final rounds. I know he'll get his first win soon. He was looking for his first win and I was looking for my first in a long time – my last was at the U.S. Nationals in 2012. We were both hungry, we went at each other, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I would have been happy if the win light had come on in his lane, but we have some great camaraderie. That's all you can ask for.
"For this whole team, talk about a dream weekend. Tommy Utt and Justin Elkes and the crew did a great job. Our teammate Shane Gray was the No. 1 qualifier, just like last week, and Jonathan and I raced each other in the finals. Plus, our Gray Motorsports GMPartsNow.com COPO Camaro won the division race in Bristol this weekend with our teammate Jeff Strickland behind the wheel. Heck, it's been a perfect race weekend for Gray Motorsports."