POMONA, Calif., Nov. 3, 2007 - Team Chevy's Dave Connolly captured his second straight No. 1 qualifying award by putting the Torco Racing Fuels Chevrolet Cobalt on the Pro Stock pole for the 43rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway.
POMONA, Calif., Nov. 3, 2007 - Team Chevy's Dave Connolly captured his second straight No. 1 qualifying award by putting the Torco Racing Fuels Chevrolet Cobalt on the Pro Stock pole for the 43rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway. The 24-year-old Ohio native, who is currently third in the POWERade points standings, posted a 6.648 e.t. at 208.01 mph during Saturday's morning session to earn his fifth career raceday pole, his third this season and his first ever at Auto Club Raceway.
"It's definitely going to be an exciting day tomorrow," said Connolly, who trails first-place Greg Anderson by 47 points heading into the Sunday eliminator. "Going into qualifying, it's funny how things work out. We were working toward getting lined up with Greg (Anderson) somewhere early in eliminations but we didn't get that done. We were hoping Greg would be No. 1 or No. 2, and maybe we would be seventh or eighth. We actually tried slowing the car down by adding weight but that obviously didn't work. Greg's basically three rounds ahead of us so we were trying to place our destiny in our own hands. We have to do our job on Sunday, and at the same time, we're hoping some of our other Pro Stock competitors might be able to take Greg out early on.
"Our goal is to take this Chevy Cobalt four rounds tomorrow, end the season on a high note and get ready for 2008. Whether Greg wins the championship, or Jeg (Coughlin), or myself, it's been a great year for us, and with three cars still in contention for the POWERade championship, an outstanding season for GM Racing."
POWERade points leader Greg Anderson, who has won the last four races at Auto Club Raceway, moved his Summit Racing Pontiac up to the No. 2 spot on Saturday with a 6.654-second run at an event top speed of 208.75 mph.
"That final lap was the best run we made in qualifying," said Anderson, whose 6.655 second-e.t. was the quickest in the last session. "We also did it in the toughest conditions - it was the hottest it's been all weekend. It's going to be hot tomorrow too, but I'm confident this Summit Racing Pontiac can go win a championship. We'll go into battle in the first round, and see if we can make another nice, smooth run like we did tonight. I better get up on that wheel if I want to be POWERade champion. Mentally I'm ready, the car's ready, the crew's ready and now we just have to go and execute."
GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver Warren Johnson will start raceday from the No. 3 qualifying position after driving his GTO to a 6.655-second e.t. at 208.49 mph. It is the best starting position this year for the six-time NHRA champion and he is looking to capture his first national-event victory at Pomona since winning the 2003 NHRA Winternationals.
"This is actually the same engine I ran all year long," Johnson said. "We just got closer on the tune-up once we got the chassis more consistent. That's all it was. Going back to basics on the chassis is something we were trying early on. Once that happened, that allowed us to be more consistent as far as getting down the track, and then that opened up some windows on the tune-up of the engine."
Jeg Coughlin Jr., who trailed first-place Greg Anderson by 34 points coming into this race, has the Jegs.com Chevrolet qualified in the No. 4 position with a 6.656-second run at 207.85 mph. Coughlin is a five-time winner at Auto Club Raceway with two victories at the NHRA Winternationals (1999-2000), and three victories at the NHRA Finals (1999,2005).
"We made a pretty good run on that last hit," Coughlin said. "That 6.67 down the right lane shows we have a good combination for tomorrow. We were pretty aggressive tonight with the Jegs Chevy Cobalt. We'll be running a little bit earlier tomorrow with Daylight Savings Time moving us back an hour. Therefore, it will be cooler, the track might be a little better and it could come right to us."
Kurt Johnson had a strong run in round one of qualifying on Saturday placing the ACDelco Chevrolet in the No. 6 position with a 6.667 e.t. at 207.69. Johnson's Cobalt ran of racetrack though and ended up in the sand traps when his parachutes failed to open. That resulted in extensive damage to the front-end of the ACDelco Chevrolet which the team is diligently working to repair before first-round of eliminations on Sunday.
"After getting our ACDelco Cobalt back to the pits and looking it over, I can tell you we have some work to do before tomorrow," Johnson said. "But it's not as bad as it could be. The first thing we'll do is knock the motor out, since it swallowed a lot of sand, but we have plenty of bullets under the bench that will get the job done. Besides that, there are other parts and pieces that need to be repaired or replaced, and we'll take care of those, but the biggest challenge will be mounting a new front end. We don't have a spare nose, but we're going to try using the one from the show car. It certainly won't be easy, but between my Dad's (Warren Johnson) GM Performance Parts crew, we're pretty confident we can do it."
Jason Line rounds out the top half of the Pro Stock field. His Summit Racing Pontiac is qualified in the No. 8 position with a 6.670 second run at 208.49 mph. Line was runner-up to teammate Greg Anderson at this event in 2004 and in 2006.
"We have as good a shot as anybody tomorrow," Line said. "That last session we were just a tick quicker than Jeggie, and for that lane, that's pretty good. Other than Greg's (Anderson) car, I think my Summit Racing Pontiac is the best out here. This is probably the best these two cars have both run in a long time. Hopefully Greg won't need my help tomorrow, but if he does, hopefully I can somehow contribute in bringing home that fifth championship for KB Racing."
Tom Hammonds qualified his Chevy Cobalt qualified in the No. 11 spot, Ron Krisher is 12th in a Cobalt, Greg Stanfield is 14th in a Pontiac, Justin Humphreys is 15th in a Pontiac and Mike Edwards is 16th in a Pontiac.
In Funny Car, Jeff Arend earned his second No. 1 qualifying award of the year by driving the blue Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevy Impala SS to a 4.781 second run at 324.90 mph. He'll face POWERade points-leader Tony Pedregon in round one of eliminations on Sunday.
"I'd definitely like to make up for last week,' said Arend on his round-two, red-light loss to Tony Pedregon at Las Vegas. "You'd think that by qualifying No. 1 you'd get a better first-round draw than the world champion, but unfortunately, that seems to have been my luck all year.
"This is my hometown crowd, the Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevrolet has run pretty good but it broke a part on the last run, or it would have run a little better. I'm glad that it broke there and not first round tomorrow. Our crew, from Mark Denner, Chris Cunningham, the two crew chiefs, all the way down to Larry, Daniel, Travis and Seth, those guys work so hard on the car. I would have to honestly say that our car is a top-five, top-10 at worst, but we didn't show all of our colors this year. A hundredth here, two hundredths there, we could have been way up there. I'm real proud of the guys. This is our last race together, and I'm very proud to drive for them. On top of that, without Del and Chuck Worsham and CSK Auto, there'd be no chance at all, and I just want to take a minute to sincerely thank all of these great guys who have worked so hard. The first step in my master plan is complete, and now I just want to have a great day on Sunday. Maybe we can all end this deal on t he highest of high notes."
-credit: gm racing