Richmond: GM Racing final report

DINWIDDIE, Va., October 7, 2007 - The streaks continue. With his Pro Stock win in today's 2nd annual Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park, Chevy driver Dave Connolly now has won five consecutive NHRA events and 20 ...

DINWIDDIE, Va., October 7, 2007 - The streaks continue. With his Pro Stock win in today's 2nd annual Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park, Chevy driver Dave Connolly now has won five consecutive NHRA events and 20 consecutive round wins, and there doesn't seem to be anybody able to slow his momentum down. Connolly drove his Torco Racing Fuels/Seelye Wright Chevy Cobalt past the Dodge of V. Gaines with a winning elapsed time of 6.671 seconds at 206.95 mph to Gaines' 6.679 e.t. at 206.92 mph. The 24-year-old Connolly has put his name on a pretty elite list of drivers to have won five consecutive Pro Stock races, joining the legendary Bob Glidden (9 consecutive wins), Ronnie Sox (5) and Greg Anderson (5).

"It was definitely a big weekend for us, and on top of all the streaks, it was our sponsor's race, Torco Racing Fuels," Connolly said. "(Owner) Evan Knoll, not only does he help a lot of the racers out here, he also sponsors a national event like this. And it was a successful one at that just looking up in the stands. It seems like here at Richmond the fans are always jam-packed in the stands and they're real drag racing fans, especially for the Pro Stock category.

"To pick up our fifth win and be put in a group with those guys, it's pretty incredible. It's something I never would've dreamed of. I just wanted to race Pro Stock, and here we are getting put on a list with guys like that. It was definitely a big win for us and things are just clicking right now. It was nice to sweep all four races in the first part of the Countdown to the Championship, but there are still two races left and that's our main goal right now. This team keeps plugging away, though. Even before this race weekend we went to Maryland for two days to test. Now we've got a long stretch of tests scheduled before we even hit Vegas, so the work's definitely not done."

Connolly started his streak at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., in August, and then followed up with a win in NHRA's biggest race of the year, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, which started a sweep of the four races that made up the Countdown to 4. The young Ohio native now has a class-leading eight wins on the season in nine final-round appearances and 17 for his young career.

"I'm not a superstitious person," Connolly said. "I try to just go up there and do what I have to do. We try and take one round at a time, and if you beat the guy in the other lane like we have, the national event wins and streak of rounds won will just kind of come to you. So no, I'm not wearing the same underwear or the same undershirt or anything like that."

The four-driver field for the Countdown to 1 was also determined today with the points reset for the two-race championship at Las Vegas and Pomona (Calif.). Joining Connolly, who swept all four events in the Countdown to 4 (Indy, Memphis, Dallas, Richmond) and starts in first with 3,030 points, are three-time Pro Stock champ and Pontiac driver Greg Anderson in second with 3,020 points, Connolly's Cagnazzi Racing teammate and fellow Chevy driver Jeg Coughlin in third with 3,010, and Dodge driver Allen Johnson in fourth with 3,000.

"For Victor (Cagnazzi, team owner) to put the group of guys that he has put together with the in-house chassis program and the in-house engine program, I think Jeggie and I are both just grateful to be the wheel men behind those Chevy Cobalts because they're definitely fast right now," Connolly said. "To have all the different winners in Pro Stock and all the good teams that are out there, for Victor to put both team cars in the Countdown is definitely a feat in itself."

Mike Edwards in the Young Life Pontiac GTO made the most of his good fortune today to advance to his second semifinal round of the season, defeating No. 5 qualifier Justin Humphreys in Round 1 and Greg Stanfield in Round 2 before losing to Gaines.

"We made a little bit more lunch money today," Edwards joked. "It's been awhile. We were real fortunate today but we're real happy. We just thank the Lord for the opportunity. We sure weren't fast, but we got a couple of breaks there. Anytime you can win a couple of rounds at one of these races, it's good. It's been a rough year, so this kind of makes it a little bit better.

"Justin (Humphreys) had a problem in the first round and we probably shouldn't have gotten through that round, to be honest with you. But hey, we'll take it. Sometimes you can pull up there and do everything right and be fast, and you still can't win. And then some days you don't know how, but you just pull up there and win. That was kind of us this weekend."

In Funny Car, Tony Bartone and Tim Wilkerson both advanced their Chevys to the semifinal round. Bartone drove his Lucas Oil Chevy Monte Carlo past Kenny Bernstein in Round 1 and Jack Beckman in Round 2 before losing to eventual event winner Gary Scelzi. Wilkerson drove his Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevy Impala SS to the round win over Mike Ashley in Round 1 and points leader Tony Pedregon in Round 2 before losing to Ron Capps in his bracket of the semifinals.

"Drag racing is hard work and some days it all comes together," Bartone said. "Today was one of those days. There in the semis against Scelzi the car struck the tires a little past half-track, I pedaled it once and unfortunately he was on a good run so I just shut it off because he was going to take the win light. But it was a great day for the Jim Dunn/Lucas Oil Products Chevy and we look forward to the next two races coming up so we can get to the semifinals or further next time."

"We made 'em work for it," Wilkerson said. "That was the good part about it. I really thought I was going to ruin Capps' day. You come here to win the race for your own sponsors, and those guys are taking care of their own as well. We're proud to be in the other lane against anybody out here. They're all good teams. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for some teams trying for the top four, and those that made it, God bless 'em, I think that's cool."

Tony Pedregon in the Q Horsepower Chevy Impala SS will lead the four-driver Funny Car field for the Countdown to 1 with the points reset for the two-race-championship at Las Vegas and Pomona (Calif.). Joining Pedregon, who starts in first with 3,030 points, will be Gary Scelzi in second with 3,020, Force Racing's Robert Hight in third with 3,010, and Ron Capps in fourth with 3,000.

Team Chevy's Larry Dixon will be the points leader in Top Fuel for the Countdown to 1 in his Don Prudhomme Racing-prepared dragster. He has his Skytel Top Fueler in first with 3,030 points, Rod Fuller is second with 3,020 points, Tony Schumacher in third with 3,010, and Brandon Bernstein in fourth with 3,000.

In the Sportsman ranks, Grant Lewis from Jesup, Ga., drove his '05 Grand Am to the Super Stock, Dan Fletcher from Churchville, N.Y., to victory in Stock Eliminator, and Mike Ruff from Orlando, Fla., won Super Gas in a '67 Camaro.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Ron Capps , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Bob Glidden , Don Prudhomme , Greg Stanfield , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Brandon Bernstein , Allen Johnson , Mike Ashley , Dan Fletcher , Robert Hight , Rod Fuller , Justin Humphreys , Dave Connolly , Mike Edwards