Connolly, SKULL GEAR Team Go for Pro Stock Victory at Hometown Track When Dave Connolly was a kid -- and at 23 he still could easily be considered one -- he did a lot of racing at National Trail Raceway, in nearby Hebron. He drove Super Comp...
Connolly, SKULL GEAR Team Go for Pro Stock Victory at Hometown Track
When Dave Connolly was a kid -- and at 23 he still could easily be considered one -- he did a lot of racing at National Trail Raceway, in nearby Hebron. He drove Super Comp and Super Comp cars that fostered his development into one of the top Pro Stock drivers in NHRA POWERade competition.
Connolly grew up in a racing family in Elyria, Ohio. He went to races with his father, grandfather, uncle and second cousin. "They all raced," he recalled. "That was what I did almost every weekend. I was always at the race track."
He soaked up information like a parched flower in the rain, eventually joining friends at big-money bracket races. And, when he was 15, a buddy let him drive his dragster.
"I'd never even driven a street car before, but I took it down the track," Connolly said. "My dad raced, but when I turned 16, he parked an old Dodge he used to race and ended up with a little dragster he let me race."
Connolly made his Pro Stock debut in mid-season 2003. He won three times in eight final rounds in 2004 and added two wins in five 2005 finals, finishing third and fifth, respectively, in points.
Connolly returns to Columbus for the fourth time as a professional driver for this weekend's Pontiac Performance Nationals at National Trail Raceway with a good opportunity to win his second consecutive race, this one in front of his family, friends and fans.
After a slow start -- momentum changes that went from a runner-up finish at Las Vegas to not qualifying at the next event (in Bristol, Tenn.), to getting a new crew chief (Tommy Utt), to qualifying 14th and winning the next week at Atlanta (May 7) -- Connolly believes the SKULL GEAR Chevrolet Cobalt team is capable of making it two in a row.
"I can think of nothing better than to win in front of my hometown crowd," Connolly said. "We've run decent there. I was runner-up in 2004. I've raced there a lot of times and am very familiar with the track. Right now our car is running good. I talked to Tommy and he was making more changes to the car to get it to run even better."
After using a big-time hole shot -- Connolly left the starting line in .008 of a second to Jason Line's .040 -- to oust Line, the No. 3 qualifier (6.702 seconds to 6.690) at Atlanta, Connolly simply outran his final foes. He beat Allen Johnson, 6.716 to 6.766; Larry Morgan, 6.696 to 6.705, and Greg Stanfield in the finale, 6.695 to 7.531.
"We have a car that can run with leaders," added Connolly, who was the seventh Pro Stock winner in seven 2006 races. He also moved into ninth place with 338 points. "The pressure to perform is there. You have to let the clutch out on time.
"Victor Cagnazzi's guys (who build the team's engines) took the motor apart and will have it ready for Columbus. Things should be good for us."
Connolly to Drive JEG'S Super Comp Dragster at Columbus
Dave Connolly's background includes many Super Comp races at National Trail Raceway and he's adding another this weekend at the Pontiac Performance Nationals. He will drive a JEG'S-sponsored dragster for the Delaware, Ohio-based team and JEG'S Mail Order company.
"Jeg (Coughlin) Jr. asked if I'd like to drive their Super Comp car and I said I would," said Connolly. "They are one of our associate sponsors and I know they always have good race cars. I wanted to do it for them.
"We are going to have the JEG'S in-car camera this weekend, too. This will probably be the only other Super Comp race I'll do this year. I hope to do as well as I did in Gainesville (Fla., in March) when I got down to three cars."