Hot Connolly Captures Second NHRA Pro Stock Victory in Three Races Dave Connolly wasn't as sharp at the starting line as he has been lately, but he had it when it was Sunday and the result was his second NHRA POWERade Series Pro Stock victory...
Hot Connolly Captures Second NHRA Pro Stock Victory in Three Races
Dave Connolly wasn't as sharp at the starting line as he has been lately, but he had it when it was Sunday and the result was his second NHRA POWERade Series Pro Stock victory in three races and fifth place in points. He also became the first driver in the category to win twice this year.
"(Crew chief) Tommy Utt and the guys saved us in the first two rounds," said Connolly after edging Kurt Johnson and winning the O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, "and I was able to pick them up in the last two. It was a real team win."
Connolly left the starting line first in the finals and never looked back. His SKULL GEAR Chevy Cobalt covered the quarter mile in 6.844 seconds at 201.34 mph to eliminate Johnson's quicker and faster 6.836 at 201.70 mph. The difference came with Connolly's .020 of a second reaction to Johnson's .070.
The decision was the second for crew chief Tommy Utt, who took over three races ago. Connolly responded by promptly reaching the winner's circle for the first time in 2006 in Atlanta three weeks ago. Brian Olson also returned as team manager at the same time.
"We made up a couple of rounds on some of the (other Pro Stock drivers) this weekend and moved up a few spots in points. That's all we can hope for right now," Connolly continued. The seventh triumph of his career in 17 finals catapulted him from 12th to fifth.
On another hot, humid day in Kansas, Connolly was cool behind the wheel. He eliminated Ron Krisher in the first round with a time of 6.828 seconds (second-quickest run of the round) at 201.70 mph to a 6.847 at 200.77. He outran Rickie Smith with a 6.8939 at 201.22 to 6.848 at 201.46.
Connolly's quick starting-line reactions carried him past V Gaines in the semifinals. Connolly left with a .045 light that enabled him to get to the finals, winning with a 6.845 at 201.22 to Gaines' .071, 6.833 at 201.31.
Connolly, runner-up here a year ago under trying circumstances, credited Utt with the team's renewed performances. "Since Tommy took over we made a180 (degree) turnaround," he said. "He's made a ton of progress and I think he' s continuing to try new things and gaining a little bit more each time. I don 't foresee our success stopping any time soon. We just have to stay on our toes and keep working for the win lights."
Connolly had 227 points and was 12th in points when Utt arrived. He left Topeka with 508 and is only 51 points out of second place with 14 races to go. The team returns to competition in the CarQuest Nationals at Joliet, Ill., June 9-11.