It doesn't seem to matter what class or the ET, give NHRA stand-out Dave Connolly a car and he'll soon find his way to the Winner's Circle.
NHRA Super Street Racer Dave Connolly
Connolly was working the extremes during his first two events of 2011. He entered both the ultra-quick Top Dragster class, where he was posting ET's in the 6 second range and the highly competitive Super Street 10.90 index class at both the Bradenton and Gainesville NHRA Division 2 events. Until earlier this year, that wasn't possible before NHRA changed the rules to once again allow drivers to enter both Super Street and another class during the same event.
Taking full advantage of the rule change and showing his true love of competing in door car classes, Connolly teamed up with his cousin to put together a very cool 1981 Chevy Malibu for the 10.90 Super Street index class.
"I really think NHRA made the right call with the Super Street class," said Connolly. "That class is just as tough as any other class and it's really where I have the most fun [in a door car]. I mean the dragster is out there going six seconds and in Super Street I'm only going almost eleven seconds, but I'm still having more fun."
Connolly also has a brand new 2011 American Dragster that he debuted during the Bradenton event.
"We have a couple of new cars this year," said Connolly. "The dragster has been giving us some new car fits and the new Malibu is great. From day one when I first saw it, there was just that extra comfort level with it."
One would think after competing as a professional racer in NHRA Pro Stock, Connolly wouldn't be interested in a much slower ET class, such as Super Street.
"Super Street is a little bit different because you have such a variety of cars," Connolly pointed out. "You might have a guy that goes 95 MPH and then you might have a guy that goes 150 MPH. There's definitely a big span of mile-per-hour difference at the finish line, which makes it more interesting and sometimes a little more challenging. Not only that, but you are trying to get a three-thousand pound car to hit the tree consistently."
"It's not as easy as everyone would think," he continued. "It's certainly not an intermediate class, which is what it has been labeled as in the past. There are a lot of very tough racers in that class."
Connolly didn't have much luck come his way in Top Dragster during the Gainesville Raceway Division race, but he more than made up for it in Super Street.
"There were a lot of really good guys I came up against on my way to the final," explained Connolly. "[Joseph] Skala in the semi-finals is one. You know he's last year's Division 2 Champ and he was on his game all day and he just had a little mishap there during our round and gave me a bunch of room. That was definitely a key race."
The majority of all the runs Connolly and the other drivers had made over the course of the event were during the brighter daylight hours, not so for the final rounds and Connolly was going to be facing a very tough Steve Mikus for the Wally.
"The sun had gone down and it was nighttime by the time we ran the final," he said. "I had actually set up a little tight for my light, at a .004 and fortunately it didn't go red on me."
"You have got to set up that tight when you run Mikus," he added. "We have always had really good races. I knew I was going to have to be good on the tree and really close to the dial."
Connolly was almost too close, but he not only saved his best reaction time of eliminations for the final he also gave Mikus absolutely no room to get in at the stripe, posting a .002 light and a perfect 10.900 ET.
"None of this would be possible without all the great folks who help put these cars together," he said. "Not only my cousin for putting this car together, but the guys at K&N for their help and awesome products that I use on every car have I raced with. You don't win races without using the absolute best and we always protect our engines with K&N filters."
After several successes at Gainesville, it is starting to become quite a special track for the champion racer.
"That's two years in a row that we went to Gainesville with somebody else's car and found ourselves in the Winner's Circle," he smiled. "There's just something about that track."
At the present, Connolly plans to chase points in both Top Dragster and Super Street in NHRA Division 2, with a possibility of some Super Comp and Super Gas competition later in the year, where he will claim Division 3, only if he's not already back behind the wheel in NHRA Pro Stock.
Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.