Industrial Distribution Group Chevrolet Cobalt
Connolly refreshed, ready for Mile-High Nationals
Denver, prerace: Refreshed, relaxed and ready to tackle the remaining 11 NHRA races, Dave Connolly would like his Torco Gear Chevrolet Cobalt Pro Stock to be rewarded, too, by the time the season concludes Nov. 6.
"We've been enjoying the time off," said Connolly of the 19 days between the conclusion of the St. Louis race (June 26) and the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, July 15-17. "We definitely want to finish strong. If we can improve last year's finish a little, we should be a (championship) contender."
This event starts the POWERade Series' traditional western swing, back-to-back races here, at Seattle and Sonoma, Calif. Eventual series champions have solidified their title aspirations with winning performances at each stop over the years.
Connolly, meanwhile, was very impressive at Seattle and Sonoma last year after leaving the mile-high altitude after a foul start, missing a green light by eight-thousandths of a second.
"We tested at Denver after the St. Louis race and I don't think that (red light) will be a problem this year," said Connolly, who comes to town fourth in points with 807 and intent on reeling in the top three, Greg Anderson, Jason Line, and Warren Johnson. "The tracks at Seattle and Sonoma were good for us because we got to the finals at each one. Our good performances continued at Brainerd (Minn., where he notched his first Pro Stock victory) and Memphis (another runner-up), too."
The strong showings solidified his hold on third place, where he remained for the
remainder of the 23-race schedule.
Connolly began the first half of 2005 with a victory at Pomona, Calif., in February and boosted his career wins total to five at Las Vegas (April). A similar finish at Bandimere Speedway Sunday would definitely help his point total.
"We were able to get some things figured out about running the Cobalt in the altitude during testing," said the 22-year-old driver from Elyria, Ohio. "We didn't have the right parts when we tested, but Terry (Adams, the team's crew chief) knew what we needed and we'll be ready when qualifying begins Friday."
Engine builder Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins used the time to freshen the team's power plants.
"The guys at Grump's shop had time to go through the motors and get everything ready for the western swing," said Connolly. "We should be in pretty good shape for the next three races."
Adams needed the time off to not only prepare the Cobalt for competition, but to recuperate from a nasty fall he took off the back of the team's hauler during testing. His foot got caught in a chain that was secured to the hauler's back door; he tripped and wound up face-first in the asphalt.
Stitches were required to close two wounds and, although he was barely mobile for several days thereafter, Adams was getting stronger as the week progressed. He will be back at his usual post in Denver.
"I almost never use the back door of the trailer and I don't know why I did that time, but I can guarantee you I won't be using it again," said Adams. "Testing at Denver was good because I know what gear ratios and transmission stuff I need. It's real tough to run the cars with less oxygen in the air, that's why we need to make the changes."
All the new parts being installed will come off the car and the regular tune-up restored after this event. Seattle's Pacific Raceways produces some of the best atmospheric conditions of any track on the circuit. Getting oxygen to the engines won't be a problem.
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