Joliet II: Connolly Racing toward second win

JOILET, Ill. -- David Connolly is young, so he can afford to be patient. Well, maybe the 21-year NHRA Pro Stock driver will learn patience as he ages. Connolly earned his first professional NHRA victory at Brainerd International Raceway in...

JOILET, Ill. -- David Connolly is young, so he can afford to be patient. Well, maybe the 21-year NHRA Pro Stock driver will learn patience as he ages.

Connolly earned his first professional NHRA victory at Brainerd International Raceway in August by doing something most Pro Stockers haven't been able to do for two years. He not only earned the win, but he beat current points leader and reigning champion Greg Anderson in the final. Last weekend in Dallas, Connolly celebrated another victory, this time by defeating veteran Bruce Allen in the final round.

Only Anderson, Connolly, Jason Line and Kurt Johnson have earned Pro Stock victories this season.

Connolly is now looking forward to scoring win No. 3 behind the wheel of the Bullet Motorsports Chevy Cavalier.

Connolly and the rest of the quickest and fastest drag racers in the world will be competing for the second set of "Wally" trophies at the state-of-the-art quarter-mile track just south of Chicago -- Route 66 Raceway. Each year the NHRA makes its way to Route 66 Raceway for two events. Up next is the fourth annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals, Sept. 30 -- Oct. 3. Kenny Bernstein, Tony Pedregon and Jeg Coughlin are the defending winners in their respective pro categories at the $1.8 million race, the 20th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Connolly has been in the final round seven times this season, losing to Anderson three times, and once each to Johnson and Line.

"It was a little rough being in three final rounds before winning the fourth one of the season," Connolly said. "But at the beginning of the season I wanted to finish in the top 10. Now it looks like we are assured a place in the top five and we have a good shot at being in the top three. That's better than what I expected. Now I want to see if we can manage a way into a couple of more final rounds and grab another win or two before the season is over."

He may have exceeded his own expectations this season, but Connolly has his sights on a future NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship.

"We're learning and we have great people on this team," Connolly said. "(Engine builder) Grumpy (Bill Jenkins) said he is going to have just two cars to work on, not four or five like it was rumored. So that's a big advantage for us.

"We're going to have the same people on this team and we'll have a great season behind us to learn from. I think we are going to be able to compete for next year's championship."

He may be a rising star with less than 100 professional starts, but Connolly has a veteran on his side. Longtime drag racer turned full-time engine builder "Grumpy" Jenkins has helped Connolly.

"People ask all the time if Grumpy has helped me with my driving," Connolly said. "To be honest, he hasn't said much about that. But he's a great engine builder and he's been around so long and never gets caught up with anything. He keeps to himself. More than anything, he's taught me to make sure I've done my job and not to worry about what anyone else is doing."

With Route 66 Raceway coming up on the schedule, Connolly is hopeful he gets to make yet another appearance in the final round -- with a winning outcome, of course.

"I really like Route 66 because that's where I got my first national event win in Super Comp," Connolly said of the 2002 win. "I love the way the facility is laid out and I seem to do well there most of the time. I didn't qualify for the fall race there last year, so I need to make up for that in a big way."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Greg Anderson , Bruce Allen , Jason Line , David Connolly