Topeka: Dave Connolly preview

Connolly Excited About Return to Heartland Park Topeka, One of His Favorite NHRA Tracks Two years ago, Dave Connolly's future in NHRA Pro Stock racing was uncertain. His team was running on borrowed time when he arrived in Topeka for ...

Connolly Excited  About Return to Heartland Park
Topeka, One of His Favorite NHRA  Tracks

Two years ago, Dave Connolly's future in NHRA Pro Stock racing was uncertain. His team was running on borrowed time when he arrived in Topeka for the Summer Nationals.

If he was  nervous, Connolly, then 22, didn't show it. He drove his way into
the finals  before losing, but the gritty performance caught the eye of drag
racing  entrepreneur Evan Knoll, who bought team.
Connolly went all the way  to the winner's circle on his return to Heartland
Park Topeka last year and now  he is coming back not only seeking his second
consecutive victory at what has  become one of his favorite stops on the
POWERade Series tour, but his second in  a row in this season..

It has been almost four weeks since Connolly turned on the fourth win light of the day at St. Louis, but the delay has done nothing to rub off the luster of his impressive start. One of the sport's rising young stars, he ranks second in points and promises to be a title contender until the final points are tallied in November.

"I don't know if I remember how to drive the car," Connolly said with a laugh. "This is definitely too soon for us to have a long break like this, but I was able to enjoy my time off a little bit. Now I am ready to get back in the seat. Coming off a win like that at St. Louis makes you anxious to get to the next race." The extra time off came when the Bristol, Tenn., race was rescheduled from May 20 to July 8.

"Topeka is one of those  tracks where, for whatever reason, we've had a lot
of success," continued  Connolly, a native of Elyria, Ohio.  "Even when we
lost our sponsorship and  went there on a one-race deal (in 2005, thanks to
financial assistance from Mark  and Andy Carrier), we had a runner-up finish.
That might've been what kept  things going for us.  And then we came back and won
it. We are definitely  running exceptionally well right now. I like our
chances going into the  race."
Connolly, who was impressive on the way to his 10th win in  21 finals, will
be at the controls of the Torco Race Fuels Chevy Cobalt that now  carries
backing from Seelye Wright Automotive Group when qualifying gets  underway Friday.
That victory put him second in POWERade Series points  with 479.
"Maybe what happened two years ago (his team owner pulled  the plug on his
involvement before the season reached its mid-point) was a  blessing in disguise
for us," said Connolly.  "Here we are with ownership  from Evan and
sponsorship from Torco and Seelye Wright.  We are excited and  ready to get back on
the track to see what we can  do.
"Unfortunately, we didn't have the opportunity to do as much  testing as we
wanted in the last couple of weeks because our sponsorship  situation put us
behind the 8-ball. There were some things we wanted to get  done, but we still
stayed pretty busy. All the guys at the shop were getting the  cars cleaned up
and ready, and the guys in the engine shop were busy getting all  our bullets
piled up because we are going to need them for our next stretch of  races.

"We are excited and ready to get back to the track to see what we can do again."

This race begins a stretch of eight races in nine weeks. Connolly and crew head for Joliet, Ill., next week. A week off follows before consecutive events at Englishtown, N.J., Norwalk, Ohio, Bristol, Tenn., Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif.

-credit: cd/jls

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Dave Connolly