Ice Injury Pushes Back Start of NHRA Season for Super Gas Lucas Oil World Champion

2009 NHRA Lucas Oil Super Gas Champion Ray Connolly has been a feared competitor in the NHRA Super Classes for the last decade, racking up over a dozen national event victories in Super Comp and Super Gas.

K&N sponsored racer Ray Connolly is the 2009 NHRA Super Gas Lucas Oil World Champion
K&N sponsored racer Ray Connolly is the 2009 NHRA Super Gas Lucas Oil World Champion
The K&N sponsored racer has been a consistent top ten finisher in the NHRA national standings. His 2009 Super Gas World Championship comes on the heels of back-to-back top ten finishes in that category. He was seventh in 2008 and fourth in 2007. Connolly earned the 2009 title on the strength of a dominating campaign in Lucas Oil Divisional events, where he claimed victory on four occasions.

Ray Connolly plans to start the 2010 NHRA racing season around the end of February
Ray Connolly plans to start the 2010 NHRA racing season around the end of February
“I don’t really have an explanation for my 2009 success at divisional events. I’ve been chasing the NHRA tour since 2002,” said Connolly. “I don’t think I did anything differently, it just fell that way last year.”

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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