Connolly Looking for Luck, Repeat Race Victory at Las Vegas When Dave Connolly last visited Las Vegas in April, he hit the jackpot, winning the SummitRacing.com Nationals. It was his second Pro Stock victory of the young POWERade Series ...
Connolly Looking for Luck, Repeat Race Victory at Las Vegas
When Dave Connolly last visited Las Vegas in April, he hit the jackpot, winning the SummitRacing.com Nationals.
It was his second Pro Stock victory of the young POWERade Series season and it elevated him to the top of the standings for the third time this year. Connolly had 428 points to 419 for Warren Johnson.
Sixteen races later, Connolly comes back to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the ACDelco Nationals. And boy, are things different.
His team has a new owner (Evan Knoll); he's driving a different race car (Chevy Cobalt); and he will finish no higher, or lower, than fifth in points. But the 22-year-old from Elyria, Ohio, definitely has learned how to persevere through adversity.
Maybe it's the old saw about the going getting tough and tough getting going, but make no mistake; this SKULL GEAR team has battled adversity and hasn't taken the 10-count. Nor will it.
"Sure, we've been through a lot," Connolly said, "but we hung together as a team -- Terry (Adams, crew chief), Grump (engine builder Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins), and John (Utt, crew member). Fifth place isn't where we wanted to finish, either, but, considering everything that's happened, we can't complain."
Connolly, Jenkins and Utt have been teammates since Connolly's first Pro Stock race in 2003. Adams joined the team last year.
Knoll bought the team in June after the previous owner pulled the financial-support plug. Connolly switched from the aging but still potent Chevy Cavalier to the Cobalt in May and the team has faltered since.
"We'd like to repeat the performance we had in the beginning of the year at Las Vegas because it would end the slump we've been in," said Connolly. " Our performance did show signs of life at Dallas (Oct. 7-9). The car ran better down the back half of the track.
"One thing about racing in Las Vegas -- you can have a good time no matter how you run. It was a bonus for us to go out and run well there at the beginning of the year."
Connolly outran Greg Anderson in the title round in April, but Anderson's team made a 180-degree turn and he'll clinch his third successive championship at this race.
"We really need to make good runs Friday night and Saturday's first run and try to qualify in the top half of the field," Connolly said. "We don't want to be racing one of the top four drivers in the opening round."
Adams believes his car is capable of making it to the semifinals, at least, when Sunday eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
"I used to worry about where we qualified," he said, "and now I worry about just qualifying. I'm glad this year is just about over."
He gets no argument from any SKULL GEAR team member on that comment.
The important qualifying sessions are scheduled at noon and 3:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.