Topeka: John Connolly preview

Dave Connolly Goes for Three Straight '08 Final Rounds, More Points at Topeka He went from the sofa to the winner's circle in three races, but Dave Connolly is taking the pragmatic approach in his pursuit of a berth in NHRA's Pro Stock...

Dave Connolly Goes for Three Straight
'08 Final Rounds, More Points at Topeka

He went from the sofa to the winner's circle in three races, but Dave Connolly is taking the pragmatic approach in his pursuit of a berth in NHRA's Pro Stock Countdown to One final championship segment.

After beginning his season five races after everyone else, Connolly's daunting mission now appears to be entirely possible following his victory at Bristol, Tenn. (May 18) and a runner-up at St. Louis two weeks earlier.

But this is just the beginning. Ten races remain before the top 10 contenders square off in a six-race title showdown.

The first, the O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, unfolds May 30-June 1. Connolly has been to three consecutive final rounds in his past three visits to the Kansas Capital city. He won in 2006 and was runner-up in 2007 and 2005.

"Topeka has been a pretty good track for us," said Connolly, driver of the Charter Communications/LifeLock Chevy Cobalt for Victor Cagnazzi Racing. "Hopefully we'll pick up four more round wins there. That's what we have in mind right now. We are coming off a high with a runner-up and a win in our second and third races back. We hope to have a little faster race car at Topeka so we can put pressure on all the guys ahead of us. We're still taking things one race at a time to see how everything pans out."

The win catapulted the Elyria, Ohio, native into 14th place with 244 points. He is 83 behind Cagnazzi teammate Ron Krisher, who is 10th.

"It should be exciting," continued Connolly. b^0x001cEven though we made a great move in the last few weeks and are four rounds out of 10th place now, we can lose those points just as fast as we gained them. The guys in ninth and 10th place (Warren Johnson and Krisher, respectively) are just as capable of winning races and we could not qualify or lose in the first round. We hope that doesn't happen, but you never know."

Connolly pointed out his reaction times were a bit rusty in his first 2008 race at Atlanta, but the Connolly who is one of the best leavers in Pro Stock was on his game in the last two rounds at Bristol. He had a .015-second reaction against Krisher in the semifinals, winning, 6.756 seconds to 6.729, and .014 in beating Greg Stanfield in the title round, 6.731 to 6.717.

Connolly had kind words for his team -- crew chief Tommy Utt and the same guys who were with him last year when he won eight races, including a record-equaling five in a row and finished third in POWERade Series points for the third time in his four-year Pro Stock career. He has 18 victories in 31 finals.

"I can't thank them enough," Connolly said. "When you have team chemistry the way we do, it doesn't take long to get things jelling like it is now. It's like riding a bicycle. I got back on it and here we are.

"We're trying to collect event wins and trophies right now. If we can do that, the points will come. They give us 20 points per round, no matter if you win this week or three weeks down the road. All our rounds are important."

-credit: vcr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Ron Krisher , Greg Stanfield , John Connolly , Dave Connolly