Sonoma: Dave Connolly preview

Dave Connolly Closing in on Top 10 Pro Stock Berth Maybe the final stop on NHRA's Western Swing will be where Dave Connolly finally punches his way into the POWERade Series top 10. The goal was established in April when he returned to Pro ...

Dave Connolly Closing in on Top 10 Pro Stock Berth

Maybe the final stop on NHRA's Western Swing will be where Dave Connolly finally punches his way into the POWERade Series top 10.

The goal was established in April when he returned to Pro Stock competition with new Cagnazzi Racing Chevy Cobalt sponsors Charter Communications and LifeLock.

His chore was to do in just 13 races what his rivals did in 18: score enough points to be among the Countdown to 1 championship chasers over the concluding six events. And he's almost there.

As Connolly prepares for the FRAM Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway, Friday through Sunday, he knows making the top 10 is one thing. Then he must stay there until points are reset for those Countdown finalists prior to the inaugural event at Charlotte, Sept. 11-14.

After a disheartening quarterfinal loss at Seattle Sunday and an unexpected first-round setback in Denver, the start of the Swing, he and the team hope to write a winning finish to the three-week grind. He trails No. 10 by 26 points (570-596), little more than one round win (worth 20 points) away.

"If we continue to qualify good at Sonoma, maybe we can make up a little more and only be one round out," said Connolly, who has one win in three finals this year.

The setback at Seattle was disappointing because Connolly ran his best elapsed time, 6.573 seconds, to set a track record and qualify No. 1. He beat Ben Watson in the first round before an engine malfunction struck while he was doing the burn out for his match against Allen Johnson.

The engine was running on seven cylinders and Connolly shut it off soon after leaving the starting line. "It was an opportunity (to add more points) lost," he said.

Connolly was runner-up at Sonoma in 2004. He has 18 victories in 32 title rounds and has finished third three times and fifth once in the hotly contested Pro Stock category.

-credit: vcr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ben Watson , Allen Johnson , Dave Connolly