Connolly, Chevy Pro Stock Team Eager For Performance Rebound at Reading If a mediocre race had to happen, Dave Connolly is relieved it was last week at Brainerd, Minn. There are seven very important ones in the offing and he wants to be at...
Connolly, Chevy Pro Stock Team Eager For Performance Rebound at Reading
If a mediocre race had to happen, Dave Connolly is relieved it was last week at Brainerd, Minn. There are seven very important ones in the offing and he wants to be at his best.
Connolly's off event likely cost him a chance to move up to second place as NHRA's Countdown to Eight climaxes at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., this weekend. He trailed Victor Cagnazzi teammate Jeg Coughlin by five points before going to Brainerd, where Evan Knoll's Torco Racing Fuels Pro Stock Chevy Cobalt shook the tires in the opening round, bouncing Connolly out of competition. Coughlin's race win restored his lead to 62 points.
"With Jeggie winning the race and us going out early, I think that will leave us solid in third place," said Connolly, who has finished third twice (2004, 2006) and fifth once (2005) in his still-young career. The native of Elyria, Ohio, has 1,135 points and holds a 73-point advantage over Allen Johnson.
When the scores are tallied Sunday evening, the leading eight take their title chances to another level. Points are reset, with Greg Anderson, the points pacesetter (1,346), getting 2010, Coughlin 2020, Connolly 2030, and up in increments of 10 through the remaining five drivers. The Countdown to Four officially begins at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Aug. 31-Sept. 3, at Indianapolis.
"We need to get our car back running up and down the track consistently and get our little mishaps out of the way," Connolly said. "I'm ready to race. We want to have momentum going into Indy. We want to get back where we want to be. We fell off the pace. I don't know what happened. Maybe the track was too good. The car shook at Seattle and we got through it, but we didn't at Brainerd.
"The good news is that Tommy (Utt, team crew chief) found the problem and now we have to fix it."
Connolly's drag racing roots go down to the Sportsman Super Comp category that features close racing on every run, quite similar to Pro Stock. He thrives on the pressure, the kind he sees building as the drivers look forward to the last race of the first Countdown segment and soon thereafter the first of four semifinal races.
"We're trying to regain our comfort level," he said. "We had a learning experience at Brainerd . . . and I'd much rather do that at Brainerd instead of Indy."
He has three wins (St. Louis, Norwalk, Ohio, and Seattle) and one runner-up (Topeka) this year. He has 12 victories in 24 finals -- totals that are always subject to change, beginning, perhaps, at Reading.