Topeka: Dave Connolly preview

Good Racecar Gives Connolly Confidence Going into Summer Nationals There will be one thing missing when Dave Connolly and the SKULL GEAR Pro Stock Chevy Cobalt team get to Topeka for this weekend's O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Heartland Park ...

Good Racecar Gives Connolly Confidence Going into Summer Nationals

There will be one thing missing when Dave Connolly and the SKULL GEAR Pro Stock Chevy Cobalt team get to Topeka for this weekend's O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka: stress.

We're not talking about the usual anxiety that accompanies any Pro Stock competitor on race weekends. We're talking about the real-world kind of tension. Last year, Connolly was trying to keep his race team together after its former owner folded the operation three days before the start of the NHRA race at Heartland Park Topeka.

With assistance from Brian Olson, Mark and Andy Carrier and, finally, Evan Knoll, Connolly's team was able to stay intact. Knoll bought the team shortly after Connolly capped a tense Kansas weekend by finishing second.

"There's a lot less stress for me now than there was a year ago, thanks to Evan Knoll," said Connolly, 23. "I think we have job security here. I know we definitely have a real good racecar going into Topeka."

After a topsy-turvy beginning of the season, Connolly grabbed a runner-up finish at Las Vegas last month but followed it by not qualifying at Bristol, Tenn. Knoll then elevated Tommy Utt to crew chief and Connolly won at Atlanta the next week. He was the Friday qualifying leader at Columbus, Ohio, last week, started sixth and fell victim to a faulty shift light and Jason Line in the quarterfinals.

Connolly shifted when the light came on early and the chain reaction knocked out the clutch. He was leading Line after leaving with a .013 of a second reaction time to a .039. "It was just one of those racing things that happen," Connolly said. "We had a good racecar all weekend. I have all the confidence in the world in our team.

"There are 15 races remaining and a lot can happen between now and then. No one is running away with the championship," Connolly added. His recent performances boosted him into eighth place in the POWERade Series top 10. The battle for positions in the standings is as close as the racing on the track. He has 392 points and is 68 points, less than four rounds, out of fourth place.

"I feel confident we can go to Topeka and become the first Pro Stock team to win for a second time this year," he concluded.

-jls-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jason Line , Brian Olson , Dave Connolly