Connolly needed every bit of his outstanding 699 point total, (the highest Super Gas total last decade) to fend off K&N sponsored racer Mike Ferderer, whose score was 689 points. The two racers engaged in a back and forth battle for most of the season, with each posting consecutive victories on their respective coasts throughout the 2009 campaign.
Early on, Ferderer looked to be the runaway 2009 champion, but Connolly overtook him in the standings in August on the strength of back-to back LODRS wins in Stanton, Michigan and Cordova, Illinois.
Connolly then scored his national event conquest of the season, at the JEGS SportsNationals in Columbus, Ohio. That win came after his allotted points in national events had been completed, and did not count toward his final tally.
Connolly’s national event triumph was bitter sweet. Ferderer claimed a third LODRS victory of his own that same weekend, and won the Division 6 finale at Champion Raceway. That put Ferderer back in the lead for the championship chase with only one more event to win for both drivers.
Connolly entered the NHRA Division 2 finale in Reynolds, Georgia will a tall order. Win the event and surpass Ferderer in the points chase or settle for second place. Connolly did the unthinkable and won the Super Gas category. He also doubled with a victory in Super Comp. Connolly also posted a perfect 9.900 elapsed time to cap his perfect day.
“This is a great accomplishment, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to pursue the title and come out atop a great group of competitors,” he said. “My hat is off to Mike Ferderer, Mike Sawyer, Val Torres, Jr., and the rest of the top ten, along with all of the NHRA Super Gas racers. If this class was not so tough, this accomplishment would not mean so much. I also want to thank my sponsors including K&N Filters. K&N filters protect my engines from track debris and help me get to the podium.”
Connolly plans to start the racing season by the middle of February. “I slipped on some ice in Ohio and broke my ankle,” he said. I’m going to pass on racing at the start in Florida, but I should have almost the same schedule as last year.”
Until then, Connolly has plans to attend a NHRA Division 3 awards banquet in Indianapolis. “I’m going to hobble up to the podium,” he said. “But I’ll be back in my cars soon enough.”
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