Connolly Sees Improvement in Charter Communications Chevy Going into Bristol The only thing Dave Connolly could do while his NHRA Pro Stock rivals were adding up POWERade Series points for five races was watch. Their Countdown to 10 portion...
Connolly Sees Improvement in Charter Communications Chevy Going into Bristol
The only thing Dave Connolly could do while his NHRA Pro Stock rivals were adding up POWERade Series points for five races was watch.
Their Countdown to 10 portion of the overall championship format is a full 18 events. His is 13. But two races into his own mini-countdown, the driver of the Cagnazzi Racing Charter Communications Chevy Cobalt already put a dent in the difference between his current 18th and 10th place. An impressive runner-up at St. Louis (May 4) in only his second race brought Connolly's point total to 130.
As he prepares for the Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, Connolly sits 156 points out of the last transfer spot into the six-race championship gallop that begins in September.
"It looks like this class has tightened up a ton this year and we need to be on our best performance," Connolly said. "It doesn't matter where you qualify or who you race, you have to make a killer run and drive good every lap because there's no soft part of the ladder anywhere.
"And we gave up five races . . . that's kind of tough to do but I feel like we have a car that can win every race so we need to minimize our mistakes and hopefully we'll find ourselves in the winner's circle a few times and get into the countdown."
He has run well before at Bristol, but, "we don't seem to have any luck there," Connolly noted. "We were No. 1 qualifier (2005) and lost to Richie Stevens by one-thousandth (of a second), and last year we had a strong car on Sunday but Kenny Koretsky beat us by two-thousandths. The breaks just don't seem to go our way. We hope that changes this year."
After a whirlwind two weeks getting ready to begin the 2008 campaign at Atlanta (April 25-27) with new primary sponsor Charter Communications and major associate LifeLock, Connolly and crew headed for St. Louis the following week.
"We've been concentrating on what needed to be done rather than sitting back and appreciating the fact we are out here racing again with great sponsors on our car," Connolly continued. "We finally got caught up and just did maintenance. We made some changes to the car that kept us pretty busy.
"We got all the other stuff -- awning, crew uniforms, etc. -- taken care of and now we can really concentrate on working on the car and doing regular maintenance. We feel we are doing a great job of representing Charter Communications and LifeLock in the pit area and on TV, but now we have the opportunity to take care of our on-track performances."
The task ahead may be daunting, but the confidence level is high -- for a very good reason.
Connolly, 25, won eight times last season (in nine final rounds), including a record-equaling five in succession. In his first four years, the Elyria, Ohio, native has 17 victories in 30 finals. He finished third in POWERade points three times (2006-07, 2004) and was fourth in 2005.
"We tested one day last week and made nine runs," added Connolly. "I thought we made some pretty nice runs. Hopefully we got rid of the clutch problem (the team had at St. Louis) and we can get on track to where we need to be.
"There is more rust on the driver than the crew and we are taking care of that, too. I have a lot of confidence in this team. I know we can make it to the finals and win some races. We are getting more laps on the car and I'm getting more comfortable in the seat. We are putting the whole package together and looking for our first 2008 win. Hopefully we'll take care of that this week, too."