Charlotte: Dave Connolly preview

Connolly's title run officially begins Friday in Charlotte If Dave Connolly continues to keep the heat on his nine Pro Stock championship rivals like he has in the last four races, he could write an unbelievable finish to what is already an ...

Connolly's title run officially begins Friday in Charlotte

If Dave Connolly continues to keep the heat on his nine Pro Stock championship rivals like he has in the last four races, he could write an unbelievable finish to what is already an inspiring comeback story.

Connolly and the Charter Communications/LifeLock Chevy Cobalt crew have won twice (Sonoma, Calif. and Indianapolis) over the last four races to finish sixth in regular-season points and move solidly into title contention.Next up is NHRA's six-race Countdown to 1 championship series that begins with the inaugural Carolina Nationals at the equally-new and impressive zMax Dragway, Friday through Sunday.

"We definitely seem to get hot this time of year," said Connolly. "I hope it continues. I know we have the team, the depth and talent to win. I'm just happy to be in the Countdown again this year. When the season started, I didn't even know if I was going to be racing. That's not the place you want to be if you want to win a championship."

He missed five races before Victor Cagnazzi, owner of the Mooresville, N.C.-based team signed partners Charter Communications and LifeLock.

And that's when Connolly began his determined charge up the standings. He was runner-up in his second race and won at Bristol, Tenn., in his third. He was a finalist in seven of his 13-race regular season events, thanks to the sage tuning calls of crew chief Tommy Utt and contributions from the crew.

"We are happy to be starting the Countdown to 1 in sixth place," said Connolly. "After all that's happened to us, we are only three and a half rounds (70 points, 2090-2020) out of the lead with six races to go . . . and we have a shot at winning the championship."

It was a year ago that Connolly's performance turned torrid. He won five straight races and was the point leader going into final two-race segment and he was third overall while Cagnazzi Racing teammate Jeg Coughlin took home the title trophy.

"I believe everything happens for a reason," Connolly said. "We let the championship slip away last year. It's made me hungrier as a driver and I want to be in that position again.

"Right now, things are going smoothly. That's all I can ask for."

Coughlin starts third this year and Ron Krisher, the third Cagnazzi Racing driver, is ninth.

"We're extremely pleased to have all three cars in the countdown to one," said Cagnazzi. "It certainly says a lot about the depth of talent on this team and the great support we get from our partners. I couldn't be more excited.

"This next phase of the countdown is going to be a dog fight to the finish. It's going to come down to the driver who does the best job when the pressure is on. We certainly feel like we have that base covered."

-credit: vcr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Krisher , Dave Connolly