Madison: Dave Connolly preview

Dave Connolly Drives His Way into Pro Stock Title Contention As the first half of the NHRA POWERade Series ends under the lights at Gateway International Raceway this weekend, Dave Connolly can see a much brighter future ahead. He's climbed...

Dave Connolly Drives His Way into Pro Stock Title Contention

As the first half of the NHRA POWERade Series ends under the lights at Gateway International Raceway this weekend, Dave Connolly can see a much brighter future ahead.

He's climbed from 12th to fourth in Pro Stock points in five races and with 12 more to go -- including the O'Reilly Midwest Nationals, Friday through Sunday nights -- the 23-year-old from Elyria, Ohio, is a viable championship contender.

Connolly's competitive year did a 180-degree turn when Tommy Utt was named crew chief of the SKULL GEAR Chevy Cobalt five races ago. At the time, Connolly had four round wins and did not qualify twice in six events.

He has accumulated an impressive 13-3 round mark since, won twice (Atlanta and Topeka, Kan.) and finished second once (Englishtown, N.J. on Sunday). He's managed to pull within 106 points of series pacesetter Greg Anderson. When Connolly's performance streak kicked into gear, Anderson was 219 points up.

"Finishing second Sunday was a confidence booster," said Connolly. "The guys at Cagnazzi Racing (the team's engine builder) are making a bunch of horsepower for us and Tommy is doing an excellent job with the race car."

"Overall, we are real excited about going to St. Louis. It will be a little different because it is a night race."

Connolly has reached the semifinals the last two years at Gateway, losing each time to Anderson.

In Sunday's final round at Englishtown, race winner Jason Line left the starting line first and never looked back (6.729 seconds to 6.739).

"I felt more comfortable in the car last week than I have in a while," Connolly said, "but I didn't perform as well as I thought I should have. The good part is we have good power and a great crew chief. Life is good for the SKULL GEAR team."

And his performances reflect it.

-js

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Series NHRA
Drivers Greg Anderson , Jason Line , Dave Connolly