Richmond: Dave Connolly final report

Connolly defeats Cagnazzi Racing teammate Jeg Coughlin in Pro Stock finals at Virginia Nationals It definitely wasn't easy, but Dave Connolly emerged with the Virginia Nationals Pro Stock championship for the second consecutive year Sunday at ...

Connolly defeats Cagnazzi Racing teammate Jeg Coughlin in Pro Stock finals at Virginia Nationals

It definitely wasn't easy, but Dave Connolly emerged with the Virginia Nationals Pro Stock championship for the second consecutive year Sunday at Virginia Motorsports Park. And he did so by defeating Cagnazzi Racing teammate Jeg Coughlin, who happens to be the reigning series titleholder and current point leader.

The victory sent Connolly, driving a special red and white Lucas Oil/Charter Communications Chevy Cobalt at this event, from sixth to third in points with 2,397. He trails runner-up Kurt Johnson by three and Coughlin by 77 with two races remaining.

Not only did Connolly have to defeat tough competitors Greg Stanfield, Johnson and Greg Anderson to get to Coughlin, but his team had to change a motor after the first round."When I came to the track today I knew it was going to be a tough first round," said Connolly. "We beat him by a one-thousandth (of a second) at Memphis two weeks ago and it was tight again. It was a good win for us and it was the tightest run we had."

The nose of Connolly's Chevy Cobalt was mere inches ahead of Stanfield at the finish line when the engine broke. The winning margin was a miniscule two 10-thousandths of a second -- 6.583 seconds at 208.59 mph to 6.597 at 208.94 mph. Stanfield left first with a .022-second reaction time to Connolly's .036.

"By the time we pulled into the pits and knew the engine was broken to the time we fired it up it was 24 minutes. Everybody was cooking and we felt like a Top Fuel team," Connolly added. "That was pretty incredible."

That performance, he noted, may have contributed to his .001-second reaction time against Johnson's .047 in the quarterfinals. "When your guys are working that hard for you, you definitely want to make sure you're on your A game," Connolly said, "and it panned out for us."

Connolly's hit the finish line in 6.588 seconds to Johnson's quicker 6.567 with a winning margin of seven-thousandths.

"In my opinion, every round, it didn't matter if it was in the first or the finals, it was a championship driver pulling up next to me.JOther than Kurt, and honestly, he's deserved to win championships, they've all been world champions. That just means they know how to win and we were just fortunate enough to turn on the win light."

Connolly's easiest decision came in the semifinals when Anderson fouled out. "You've got to have a little luck in this class and we definitely had a little bit with us today."

The win was the fourth in Connolly's abbreviated 18-race season thus far. After starting the campaign five events after the rest of the contenders, he advanced to eight final rounds. He was sixth at the end of the regular season.

There are eight rounds remaining and he is four rounds behind Coughlin, so he's still a title contender with races at Las Vegas (Oct. 31-Nov. 2) and Pomona, Calif. (Nov. 13-16) remaining.

-credit: gr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Greg Anderson , Greg Stanfield , Dave Connolly