Indy ORP: Dave Connolly final report

Dave Connolly Dominates U.S. Nationals Pro Stock Competition; Wins Second in Row Dave Connolly had to work on Labor Day, but he made it payoff off in a number of ways. The driver of Evan Knoll's Torco Racing Fuels Pro Stock Chevy Cobalt didn't...

Dave Connolly Dominates U.S. Nationals Pro Stock Competition; Wins Second in Row

Dave Connolly had to work on Labor Day, but he made it payoff off in a number of ways.

The driver of Evan Knoll's Torco Racing Fuels Pro Stock Chevy Cobalt didn't just win NHRA's premier event, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Monday at O' Reilly Raceway Park, he dominated it. The victory was his first at this 53-year old event, his second straight and the first in the Countdown to Four playoffs.

And it hoisted him into first place with 2,176 points, 14 ahead of arch rival Greg Anderson, whom he defeated in Monday's title round while supplanting him atop the standings. Anderson had been the leader through the first 17 races, but his 174-point advantage dropped to 10 when NHRA reset points after the first stage of the Countdown.

A year ago, Anderson got the win when Connolly's Cobalt left the starting line too soon. Anderson left first this time, but the yellow Cagnazzi Racing Cobalt took command just like it had in the day's three previous round. Connolly won in 6.710 seconds at 206.32 mph to Anderson's 6.729 at 205.79.

"I'm thrilled and I'm speechless," said a smiling Connolly. "This is the U.S. Nationals, the biggest event of the year, and I'm standing here with the trophy. It's incredible.

"We have been trying to win this race for the last four years, but Evan Knoll and Victor Cagnazzi have put a heck of a team together and it looks like we are starting to give Greg's team a run for their money."

Connolly, who began eliminations by running the quickest time of the event, 6.648 seconds at 206.39 mph in defeating Anderson teammate Jason Line (6.691 at 206.86), praised crew chief Tommy Utt. "He did a great job with the car . . . we had the best car every round. We made pretty good runs all day until the final when the tires kind of shook and it made me a little nervous."

The win snapped Anderson's Raceway Park round-win streak at 19 and four consecutive race victories. "He was going for five straight and we were hungry," added Connolly. "It's the first race in the Countdown (to Four). We came in second in points and now we've gone around him and now he's chasing us."

Connolly ended Justin Humphreys' day in the quarterfinals -- 6.704 at 206.39 to 6.749 at 205.72 -- and defeated Kenny Koretsky (6.697 at 206.04 to 6.799 at 203.49) to set up the rematch with Anderson.

-credit: ekr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Greg Anderson , Kenny Koretsky , Justin Humphreys , Dave Connolly