Most may wonder when Dave Connolly could possibly find the time to race himself with all that he has on his plate these days, including the crew chief position he currents holds on Erica Enders NHRA Pro Stock team, let alone not be rusty when he does. After a very last minute decision, Connolly chose to run the NHRA Div 2 event at zMax Dragway, just a short drive away from his home in North Carolina and not only did he compete on his "off weekend" but drove his 1981 Chevy Malibu all the way to the Super Street [10.90 Index] Wally.
NHRA Divisional Driver Dave Connolly
Connolly took a few minutes to replay the weekend's events following his full day of testing with Erica Enders on the Monday following his win. "I wasn't even planning on going since we have been so busy at the shop. Erica is a slave driver, she's been making us work too hard," Connolly joked, making sure she heard him in the background. "I didn't even have a motor in my Malibu. I was going to put it in, then going to put it in, but we kept working twelve hour days. By the time we got to Friday I thought, I'm not even going to go to that race. I'm going to take the weekend off and just go enjoy myself."
Once a racer, always a racer and come early Saturday morning, the idea of not competing when he had the chance, didn't sound like much fun. "Got up at five-thirty on Saturday morning and decided I wanted to race," he confessed. "So I went to the shop, put a motor in, thanks to a buddy of mine who came and helped me and off to the track I went."
He not only competed at the divisional event in Super Street, but also Top Dragster. "I made real good runs in the dragster, but ended up getting my butt kicked in first round," he admitted. "I make two horrible runs in the Malibu and I end up winning the race. That's just how it goes some days."
As he made his way through the early rounds in Super Street, Connolly continued to tweak the delay in his box to get better and better reaction times, and by third round they were almost too good. "I just started pulling a little more out of the box each time," he explained of his perfect light in round three. "Might have got a little carried away in my round against Mullis, but I had heard that the round before he had a .001 light and he can definitely lay down a run at any time, so it was a 'two-for-one' special [laughed]. I certainly wasn't trying for a perfect bulb, but it popped up there. I'm not near good enough to set up that tight, that was on accident."
With the round win, it gave Connolly a bye in the quarterfinals and he let the remaining contestants in the field know, that he was ready for what they may have for him with his dead-on index 10.906 pass. "After the ninety on the bye run and the good light, I knew where we were and kinda got the groove down for the last few rounds," he said.
Connolly tightened up just enough for the semifinal, that his .005 at the hit gave him .013 advantage over John Rollins which he near effortlessly turned into a round win. Rollins taking a huge chunk of stripe and went under the index by .015, Connolly quite safe, posting a 10.941.
Off to the final, Connolly was looking for his second Super Street win of the season and to do so he would need to get by Don Garbinski in his 1971 Challenger. Again being a terror on the tree, Connolly had a .016 reaction time advantage and he used all but five thousandths of it at the finish line. Both drivers went under the index and Connolly grabbed the NHRA Div 2 Super Street Wally on his 10.877 to Garbinski's 10.856.
"It was really a lot of fun and funny all at the same time," Connolly said of his first time behind the wheel in a while. "Sometimes you can take racing a little too seriously and it will actually hurt you. You know this race was really fun. It was a divisional, it was thirty minutes from the house and one of the other employees in the shop was out there running his Super Gas car and we were just out there hanging out. There wasn't a lot of preparation or thought that went into this race, but once you get out there and start going a few rounds you start getting more focused and realize 'hey, you've got a shot at winning this thing', so you start taking it a little more serious."
With everything that Connolly did in his last second thrash to attend the race, including putting a motor in the car the same morning he left for the event, the one thing that he didn't have to worry about was the condition of lubrication system, thanks to his K&N oil filter. "It was actually an old Sunset motor that I have had for two years," he said. "That thing kind of needs freshened up. All I did was spun the K&N oil filter off of it, cut it open to make sure there wasn't anything in it. Spun a new one on, put oil in it and went. When you use K&N products, like their oil and air filters, you can do things like that. You know you are protecting your engines the best way you possibly can."
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