LAS VEGAS, October 27, 2007 - Chevy driver Dave Connolly is off to a great start in the first of two races of the NHRA POWERade Series' Countdown to 1 for the 2007 Pro Stock championship, capturing his second No. 1 qualifier of the season after ...
LAS VEGAS, October 27, 2007 - Chevy driver Dave Connolly is off to a great start in the first of two races of the NHRA POWERade Series' Countdown to 1 for the 2007 Pro Stock championship, capturing his second No. 1 qualifier of the season after qualifying for eliminations was completed at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Connolly drove his Torco Racing Fuels/Seelye Wright Chevy Cobalt to an elapsed time of 6.725 seconds at a track-record speed of 205.57 mph to edge out the Pontiac driven by defending Pro Stock champion Jason Line. Connolly, Greg Anderson, Connolly's teammate Jeg Coughlin and Allen Johnson are the four drivers eligible in the two-race shootout here at Las Vegas and next weekend at Pomona (Calif.) for the 2007 NHRA POWERade championship.
"It's been a pretty remarkable season so far, coming off the five wins," Connolly said. "We knew we had a strong team, yet this team is coming together. Coming off Richmond (Va.), our fifth, we still went to Farmington (N.C.) and got some testing done and then off to Tucson (for more testing). I attribute a lot of our success to team chemistry. This is our first full year together with Cagnazzi Racing and we've got to do a lot of testing and that's paid dividends. We've made over 300 runs on this Chevy Cobalt so far this year and that's more than we ever have. I think it's shown on our on-track performance. Hard work does pay off. Along with so many others in the class, everybody's had to step up their testing program. That's what's made this Pro Stock category so exciting, the drag racing is so tight. There are so many cars out there that are within hundredths of a second, so it's going to make for great racing.
"As far as confidence goes, the whole team feels it because we feel we've prepared as best we can for the Countdown to 1 as it showed out here. I think the last time we were No. 1 was Seattle and we won, so we're going to go ahead and take it, take the extra eight points for qualifying and see what we can do tomorrow. If we can get by first round, it looks like we're either going have Allen Johnson or our teammate Jeg Coughlin in the second round, so we definitely have our work cut out for us. That's what this Countdown to 1 was supposed to bring is excitement and that's exactly what they're going to get."
The 24-year-old Connolly recorded his fifth consecutive race win three weeks ago at Richmond, put his name on a historic list of drivers to have won five consecutive Pro Stock races by joining the legendary Bob Glidden (9 consecutive wins), Ronnie Sox (5) and Greg Anderson (5).
"There's added pressure being in such an elite group with Bob Glidden, Greg and Ronnie Sox with five wins in a row, so if we go out and get No. 6 tomorrow we'll definitely keep the points lead going into Pomona and that also will shorten the list up to me and Bob. That's something that's definitely on my mind, but we're just going to go in there like we have the last five races and just take it one round at a time.
"You never know what's going to happen up there. They do have a red light on that Christmas Tree that you have to worry about, and guy in the other lane is always after your throat. Not only are Greg, Jeg, Allen, and I going for the championship, there's 12 other guys that want to win the race too. I'm sure they're not going to roll over and play dead by any means. Every run you go through you're going to have your hands full. You just go up there and do the best you can. I have all the confidence in the world in this team. Like I said before, I feel like we're prepared as well as we can be. I just hope that it doesn't come down to a mechanical failure or anything like that that's out of our control. But win, lose or draw we've had a great season and a championship would definitely be icing on the cake."
Jason Line in the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO was just a tick of the timer behind Connolly in second with a qualify time of 6.727 seconds at 205.22 mph. Although Line won't be defending his Pro Stock crown in the season's final two races (he failed to qualify for the final four), the Minnesota native will be lending strong support to his teammate, three-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson.
"It's been awhile since we've been near the top in qualifying," Line said. We've got a new RJ (Rick Jones-built) chassis and apparently it was time for a new car because this is a lot better than my other one. Hopefully we can do a good job tomorrow and go some rounds. Hopefully we can help the boss try to win this championship. Really, right now that's the only thing I care about."
Anderson was next on the qualifying grid in the No. 3 position, driving his Summit Racing Pontiac to an elapsed time of 6.731 seconds at 205.01 mph. He entered this weekend's race second in the drivers standings, 10 points behind points leader Connolly.
"It certainly doesn't look like our testing here hurt any," Anderson said. "We had a lot of laps here in trying to learn a few different things about this racetrack, what to do in changing conditions and things like that. We showed up here the other day and we were off a little bit, the track had changed a little bit from when we tested and we had to make some adjustments. It took us three or four runs to finally get those adjustments right, but we did learn through the test what kind of adjustments we could make if we saw that. It definitely helped out and we've gotten better each run with the cars and are going into race day on a good note.
"We were the two quick cars of the last session and that's a confidence builder. We're honing in on the setup of the cars and we're pretty happy. We've got pretty happy cars right now so bring on tomorrow. We need to have a big day tomorrow. We need to go on and try and win the race - it's been awhile. We need to stop Dave Connolly's momentum and get some back in our own corner for awhile."
Justin Humphreys in his RaceRedi Motorsports/Knoll-Gas Energy Pontiac was the provisional No. 1 qualifier after Friday's two rounds of qualifying and had a strong run in the fourth and final qualifying session to qualify a career-best fourth. Humphreys had an elapsed time of 6.740 seconds at 204.05 mph.
"We were happy about that," Humphreys said. "We were hoping to stay on the pole but the 6.740 was pretty stout, too. It was the fourth-quickest of the last session and it gave us our highest starting position. We will be ready to race."
Ron Krisher in the Valvoline Chevy Cobalt made four strong qualifying runs to qualify fifth and attributes a lot of his turnaround to the power provided him by his Cagnazzi Racing engines. The Pro Stock veteran had an elapsed time of 6.746 seconds at 204.80 mph.
"We've been kind of struggling here off and on for a little bit," Krisher said. "We've got some new carburetors on the car and they work pretty well. That's been a big part of what we've been seeing. Victor (Cagnazzi) and Joe Hornick have got us an awful lot of power.
"We tried some things on that last run but we didn't get the ratios right. But we'll be fast tomorrow, I'll guarantee you. We've been in the top four every run and we should have been that last run. I've got a good chance of playing spoiler tomorrow and if I don't do it this week, I'll do it next week."
-credit: gm racing