Richmond: Dave Connolly preview

Dave Connolly Goes for Five Straight Pro Stock Victories at Torco Racing Fuels Nationals Dave Connolly grew up going to drag races with his dad. Ray Connolly is a Sportsman racer and Dave wanted to follow in dad's tire tracks. Dave, 24, drove...

Dave Connolly Goes for Five Straight Pro Stock Victories at Torco Racing Fuels Nationals

Dave Connolly grew up going to drag races with his dad. Ray Connolly is a Sportsman racer and Dave wanted to follow in dad's tire tracks.

Dave, 24, drove Super Comp cars like his dad but took the big step to NHRA Pro Stock competition in 2003. And, in his fourth full season of professional racing, Dave currently is the category's hottest guy in the POWERade Series championship race. He brings an impressive four-race win streak with him to Virginia Motorsports Park, in nearby Dinwiddie, for his car owner/sponsor Evan Knoll's Torco Racing Fuels Nationals.

Fifty-two points separate Connolly from three-time champion Greg Anderson (2,408-2,356) going into the last of the Countdown to Four races in the 21st of 23 2007 events. And even if the native of Elyria, Ohio, boosts his win streak to five, his advantage will be a guaranteed 10 points come Monday. The points will be reset for the Countdown to One, with 3030 going to No. 1, 3020 to second and 10-points less each for third and fourth.

"It has been kind of weird looking back on what has happened to us in the last month," said Connolly, who, along with Jeg Coughlin Jr., drives for Victor Cagnazzi Racing. "We have been on a hot streak and everything is clicking and going smooth. It doesn't seem like we can do no wrong. A good example is the final round against Greg at Dallas (Sept. 23). I got a lucky break when Greg didn't even get to the starting line."

Connolly's streak began with a win at Reading, Pa., and then came wins at Indianapolis, Memphis and Dallas. The last three have been against Anderson, his career-long nemesis. Connolly and Anderson are tied with seven for most 2007 wins. Connolly's career total is now 16 victories in 28 final rounds. His best season finish is third (2004, 2006) and he was fifth in 2005.

"Sometimes you might start to take things for granted when they start going like they have, but it has worked just the opposite for me," Connolly said. "I am becoming more and more appreciative that I have a good job and good opportunity to do what we do. Whether times are good or bad, we still have a lot to be thankful for. I get to fulfill my dreams racing Pro Stock for a living. A lot of people would pay to drive and we get paid to race.

"Thanks to Evan Knoll . . . he's the guy who gave me the opportunity. We are happy with what we've accomplished, but there is more out there. We want to keep Jeg (fourth with 2,188 points) in the top four this weekend. We knew going in that this was going to be an important cut. There are a lot more than four good cars in Pro Stock. It is very rewarding to have our car in the top four, but to have both cars in would be awesome."

Cagnazzi, who launched Cagnazzi Racing in 2003, would like that, too. "We are going to work as a team to get Jeg solidly in the Countdown to One," he said.

"I feel grateful to have found a happy home working with Victor and the good people he's put together at Cagnazzi Racing," said Connolly. "I believe we can continue to run strong and be contenders.

"That's incredible because five years ago I was racing at local bracket races at home in Elyria, wishing I would have an opportunity to race. And it is cool to experience it with my crew chief, Tommy Utt, and his son, John. They showed up in Chicago when I made my Pro Stock debut in 2003. We've come a long way together."

And the next step? The perfect finish to this season would be a Pro Stock championship.

-credit: ekr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Greg Anderson , Dave Connolly