Connolly Excited About Return to Heartland Park Topeka, One of His Favorite NHRA Tracks Two years ago, Dave Connolly's future in NHRA Pro Stock racing was uncertain. His team was running on borrowed time when he arrived in Topeka for ...
Connolly Excited About Return to Heartland Park Topeka, One of His Favorite NHRA Tracks
Two years ago, Dave Connolly's future in NHRA Pro Stock racing was uncertain. His team was running on borrowed time when he arrived in Topeka for the Summer Nationals.
If he was nervous, Connolly, then 22, didn't show it. He drove his way into the finals before losing, but the gritty performance caught the eye of drag racing entrepreneur Evan Knoll, who bought team.
Connolly went all the way to the winner's circle on his return to Heartland Park Topeka last year and now he is coming back not only seeking his second consecutive victory at what has become one of his favorite stops on the POWERade Series tour, but his second in a row in this season..
It has been almost four weeks since Connolly turned on the fourth win light of the day at St. Louis, but the delay has done nothing to rub off the luster of his impressive start. One of the sport's rising young stars, he ranks second in points and promises to be a title contender until the final points are tallied in November.
"I don't know if I remember how to drive the car," Connolly said with a laugh. "This is definitely too soon for us to have a long break like this, but I was able to enjoy my time off a little bit. Now I am ready to get back in the seat. Coming off a win like that at St. Louis makes you anxious to get to the next race." The extra time off came when the Bristol, Tenn., race was rescheduled from May 20 to July 8.
"Topeka is one of those tracks where, for whatever reason, we've had a lot of success," continued Connolly, a native of Elyria, Ohio. "Even when we lost our sponsorship and went there on a one-race deal (in 2005, thanks to financial assistance from Mark and Andy Carrier), we had a runner-up finish. That might've been what kept things going for us. And then we came back and won it. We are definitely running exceptionally well right now. I like our chances going into the race."
Connolly, who was impressive on the way to his 10th win in 21 finals, will be at the controls of the Torco Race Fuels Chevy Cobalt that now carries backing from Seelye Wright Automotive Group when qualifying gets underway Friday. That victory put him second in POWERade Series points with 479.
"Maybe what happened two years ago (his team owner pulled the plug on his involvement before the season reached its mid-point) was a blessing in disguise for us," said Connolly. "Here we are with ownership from Evan and sponsorship from Torco and Seelye Wright. We are excited and ready to get back on the track to see what we can do.
"Unfortunately, we didn't have the opportunity to do as much testing as we wanted in the last couple of weeks because our sponsorship situation put us behind the 8-ball. There were some things we wanted to get done, but we still stayed pretty busy. All the guys at the shop were getting the cars cleaned up and ready, and the guys in the engine shop were busy getting all our bullets piled up because we are going to need them for our next stretch of races.
"We are excited and ready to get back to the track to see what we can do again."
This race begins a stretch of eight races in nine weeks. Connolly and crew head for Joliet, Ill., next week. A week off follows before consecutive events at Englishtown, N.J., Norwalk, Ohio, Bristol, Tenn., Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif.