Connolly Drives His Way into Runner-up Finish at Las Vegas Dave Connolly came within three-thousandths of a second of hitting a second straight jackpot in the SummitRacing.com Nationals Sunday in this glitzy gaming capital. On his game at the...
Connolly Drives His Way into Runner-up Finish at Las Vegas
Dave Connolly came within three-thousandths of a second of hitting a second straight jackpot in the SummitRacing.com Nationals Sunday in this glitzy gaming capital.
On his game at the starting line, Connolly used quicker reaction times to launch winning runs in his first three elimination rounds. And he saved his quickest reaction for the title round -- a .006 (of a second) gem (to a .035) that put him ahead of Kurt Johnson for all but a few measly inches at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway finish line. Johnson's winning time was 6.842 seconds at 202.42 mph to Connolly's 6.874 at 203.31 mph.
"I knew it was tight (at the finish line) and I was pretty sure he was ahead of me," said Connolly, who was making his 14th career title-round appearance. "We won some rounds and bunched up the (series) points a little bit. Overall, it was a pretty good weekend."
Connolly, who was 18th two weeks ago, moved up to 14th last week at Houston and he's now 11th with 217 points, four out of the top 10 and four rounds (80 points) behind fourth place.
Crew chief Terry Adams made numerous changes to the Cobalt chassis before the race and the result was Connolly's highest qualifying effort of the season (eighth, 6.806 seconds at 202.70 mph).
"We did all we could do," said Adams. "We just couldn't get the numbers we needed down low."
"Qualifying in the top half is what got us to the final," added Connolly. "We might not have gone past the first round if we didn't have lane choice. We got a few breaks and won on some hole shots. We have a bunch of power under the hood now and that really pulled us through. We just need to improve our 60-foot times."
Connolly's streak of leaving the starting line first began against V. Gaines (.049 to .064), who had the quicker numbers (6.831 at 202.48 mph) only to lose to a 6.841 at 202.58. The difference was five-thousandths of a second. He followed with a .018 to Greg Stanfield's .038 in the quarterfinals and took the win light with a 6.867 at 201.67 to 6.851 at 201.97.
Connolly put the team into the finals with a .015 to Jim Yates' .063 and a 6.882 elapsed time to a 6.867.
"We have a bunch of power under the hood now and that really helped pull us through," Connolly said. "We just need to get a little better race car and I think we can be dangerous again. We had three of our four races decided by four-thousandths (of a second), five thousandths and three thousandths."
The team returns to action at the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals, April 28-30, at Bristol, Tenn.