Joliet: Dave Connolly preview

After Slow Start, Dave Connolly Displays Winning Clout in Pro Stock There were times early in the season when Dave Connolly felt a little like a 100-pound weakling getting pummeled by his peers. Ah, but all that has changed in the last few...

After Slow Start, Dave Connolly Displays Winning Clout in Pro Stock

There were times early in the season  when Dave Connolly felt a little like a
100-pound weakling getting pummeled by  his peers.

Ah, but all that has changed in the last few races and it's now Connolly who is flexing his competitive muscles.

The  transformation didn't come with spinach, ala Popeye, but from Tommy Utt,
who,  Connolly says, is responsible for a 180 (degree) direction switch that
helped  him become the first driver with two wins this year in the
ultra-competitive  NHRA POWERade Pro Stock series.
Not only that, Evan Knoll's  SKULL GEAR Chevrolet Cobalt team has become a
viable championship  challenger.  Connolly leapt from 18th to fifth in six
races.  Included  in that spurt are the two wins (Atlanta, May 7, and Topeka, Kan.,
May 28), one  runner-up and one did not qualify.  His 508 points put him 51
shy of second  place with the season's 10th race -- the CARQUEST Auto Parts
Nationals --  unfolding Friday through Sunday at Route 66 Raceway.
"This class is  brutal (competitively).  It will kick you when you're down,
definitely,"  said Connolly, who went more than a year between national event
wins, April 2005  to May 2006.  "But Tommy has made a lot of progress and he'
s continuing to  try new things at every race.  We are gaining a little bit
more each  time.  I don't foresee our success stopping any time  soon."

His peers may not want to hear that, especially when Connolly's going to his favorite track.

""I've always been  pretty lucky at Route 66," he said.  "That's where I
got my first national  event win (2002, while driving in Super Comp) and my
first Pro Stock win  (2004).  Last year, the only win we had came in the
(special) King Demon  Crown at the track and paid $50,000.
"Having a car that runs good  makes race weekends exciting," he continued.  "
I put more pressure on  myself when I have a good car."

Acknowledged as one of the best at leaving the starting line quickly, Connolly is nevertheless pleased with the horsepower coming from engines built by Victor Cagnazzi Racing. "We have definitely picked up our program in the last couple of races and the car and crew are working well together. This isn't a one-man sport. It takes everybody pulling in the same direction to be successful."

As for  his reaction times, Connolly said he is "just trying to do my job. It'
s a little  job security, you might say.  But that's what they pay me to do .
. . go up  there, leave on the other guy and do a good job driving the car.
It's like  any other sport. You want to be the best that you can."
Connolly  has seven wins in 16 finals rounds. He finished third and fifth in
his first two  full seasons on the NHRA tour.
"Our goal is to stay  competitive . . . and I think we will," he said.  "I
think it's a lot  better when you have different winners in the classes. It
makes for good racing  on Sunday and that's what the fans are here for.
"We haven't  reached the point where we are dominant like Greg Anderson has
been the last  three years, but everybody has a goal in mind and that's what
makes this class  so competitive."

-dc-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Greg Anderson , Dave Connolly