A 6.572 at 211.03 mph was followed by Connolly's best time of 6.565 at 210.77, and after a troubled 11.272 in the third qualifier, Connolly came back with a brisk 6.591, 209.79.
Dave Connolly can't wait for Sunday and a chance to bring his Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to the starting line for a first-round match with an opponent so equally matched that ESPN chose their head-to-head meeting as their Pro Stock Marquee Matchup. Yes, the first round of eliminations at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals should be riveting as No. 7 qualifier Connolly squares off with former teammate Jeg Coughlin.
"It's funny, you look at that ladder for tomorrow and it's probably one of the toughest ladders you could draw up," said Connolly. "But that's what gets you excited. I'm looking forward to it – it's a huge first round, and we should be second pair out, then it will be time to get it on. I think we'll have something for Jeggie."
"We have a car that is capable of winning races," said the Elyria, Ohio-native. "We made some conservative runs and then played musical motors this morning which kind of threw us behind the eight ball for the third session, but besides that run, we did make three consistent runs with room to improve. We tried something in Q4 that showed a lot of promise. Time will tell, but I'm very optimistic about tomorrow."
Connolly and Coughlin most recently met on raceday in the semifinals in Reading in 2012. Connolly got the win light on a holeshot, using superior starting-line skills to better an opponent whose racecar was a bit quicker.
"First round tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun, and it's been awhile since I've gotten to go out there and tangle with Jeg," said Connolly. "I'm definitely looking forward to it, and I'm sure the feeling is mutual. He made a pretty decent run that last pass, and I know what we have left. Car-wise and driver-wise, I'd say we're pretty even. It's going to be whoever lets the clutch out first."