CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals
Pro Stock racer Dave Connolly is $50,000 richer after capturing the title of the 21st annual King Demon Crown Saturday at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago. Connolly became just the third racer in the history of the event to win on a red-light when opponent Jason Line jumped the start by .028-second.
It was sweet redemption for Connolly, who lost to Line's teammate Greg Anderson in last year's King Demon Crown final by one-ten-thousandths of a second. Line will have to suffer the consequences of his actions as he ran a superior 6.775 at 203.22 mph to Connolly's 6.823 at 202.55 mph.
"For all this team has been through in the last few weeks, this is just awesome," said Connolly, who is now in line for a $25,000 bonus should he win Sunday's race. "The runner-up in Topeka with the Carrier Boyz was big and now to win this race for Torco and Evan Knoll is even better. They stepped up big time and rescued us.
"It was good to get a little revenge on those KB Racing guys. This is the second race in a row here where I've beaten one of them on a red-light so I guess our horseshoe at this track is still working. I won my first ever national event here in Super Comp so it's become one of my favorite tracks on the circuit.
"I looked over in fourth gear and he was just driving away from me. I thought we were done. Then I hit fifth and looked up and saw the scoreboard lights on in my lane and I just about threw the chutes and shut the car off I was so excited."
Driving his newly-painted Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac, Line powered through the elimination ladder with a 6.78-second win over Ken Koretsky and a 6.79 victory over two-time King Demon Crown winner Jeg Coughlin, before squandering his best pass of the day in the final.
For his part, Torco Gear Chevrolet Cobalt driver Connolly took out Mike Edwards and Kurt Johnson to reach his second final round in as many attempts. He then took a glory lap as the red light shined in Line's lane.
Line pocketed $10,000 for his runner-up effort. Johnson and Coughlin both won $3,000 for reaching the semifinals, while first-round losers Edwards, Koretsky, Larry Morgan, and Greg Anderson all receive $2,500 just for making the field.
Anderson, the event's top seed with 12 No. 1 qualifying attempts over the last 12 months, was drilled by Johnson in Round 1 when Johnson posted a near-perfect .001 reaction time and outran the two-time series champion by four-thousandths of a second.
"That's a pretty darn tough draw for the first round," Anderson said. "We caught Kurt at a point where he's totally on top of his game. Sucks for us."
Barry Grant's King Demon Crown company awarded $151,000 to racers throughout the last 12 months. In addition to the $76,000 handed out Saturday, Grant presented the low qualifier from each national event a check for $3,000.
2005 KING DEMON CROWN ROUND PAIRINGS
FIRST ROUND (11:30 p.m.): Anderson vs. Johnson; Line vs. Koretsky; Morgan vs. Coughlin; Connolly vs. Edwards.
SEMIFINALS (3 p.m.): Anderson-Johnson winner vs. Connolly-Edwards winner; Line-Koretsky winner vs. Morgan-Coughlin winner.
FINAL (4:30 p.m.)