Dave Connolly Likes Bristol Dragway; He'd Like It Even More Should He Win Thunder Valley Nationals Dave Connolly is carrying a love-hate relationship into the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals this weekend at Bristol Dragway with the goal of...
Dave Connolly Likes Bristol Dragway; He'd Like It Even More Should He Win Thunder Valley Nationals
Dave Connolly is carrying a love-hate relationship into the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals this weekend at Bristol Dragway with the goal of turning it into a love fest . . . for Bruton Smith's state of the art drag racing facility.
Connolly, in his fourth full Pro Stock season, arrives in third place in NHRA POWERade Series points, fresh from scoring an impressive hometown victory Sunday at Norwalk, Ohio. It's a quantum leap from a year ago when he wasn't in the top 10.
"Bristol is a gorgeous track and it is great for the fans," said the Elyria, Ohio, native. "The view you get from the top of the track is like watching Hot Wheels cars go down the track. I've had my ups and downs there. I was No. 1 qualifier two years ago and didn't qualify last year so I got a good view of the race from the top of the track. That race was a turning point for our team . . . and the last DNQ we had."
Norwalk is the track where Connolly made his first quarter-mile runs. His win Sunday was his second of the year in his third final round. It pushed his career mark to 11 wins in 23 rounds. He won at St. Louis in May. "I'd never done much at St. Louis before either. Hopefully we'll have the same results here as St. Louis," he said.
"We definitely feel better going into Bristol with a win under our belt," added Connolly, driver of Evan Knoll's Torco Racing Fuels/Seelye Wright Automotive Group Chevy Cobalt. "It was a great win for our Victor Cagnazzi (Racing) team. It was a good win for my crew chief, Tommy Utt, who has given me a great car for several months now and we just took advantage of it.
"I have all the confidence in Tommy. He's always been a great crew chief on race day and makes smart calls . . . and he definitely knows how to win a race."
Six of Connolly's 11 victories have been with Utt in the last 28 races
With six races remaining in NHRA's new Countdown to Eight portion of its new championship formula, Connolly is keeping his goals simple.
"We are fortunate to have the new point system this year," Connolly commented. "Right now we are more than 200 points behind Greg (Anderson) and we aren' t really racing for first place. But we are going to try to collect as many points as we can as we go into the first cut (following the Reading, Pa., race Aug. 19). If things stay the same, we'll only be 20 points behind going into the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis because NHRA revises the point totals so 10 points separate each of the drivers.
Because Cagnazzi's shop in Mooresville, N.C., is about 3-1/2 hours from Bristol, "this is like a home race for us and we want to put on a good show for them. A lot of the people who work there will be in Bristol," Connolly concluded.