Past Indy champ Connolly hoping to stir things up on race day
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Industrial Distribution Group (IDG) driver Dave Connolly will be gunning for his third U.S. Nationals title when he rolls off 15th in Sunday's 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Racing out of the GK Motorsports camp, Connolly won the U.S. Nationals in 2007 and 2008 and hasn't been entered since, so he can be considered a defending champion of sorts.
Either way, Connolly races another past U.S. Nationals winner, Mike Edwards, in the first round of Pro Stock on Sunday. Connolly's best lap was 6.622 seconds at 209.23 mph in Saturday's first session, and that was an improvement over his best pass last weekend, 6.684 at 206.61 mph, before rain postponed the event. Edwards qualified No. 2 with a run of 6.555 seconds at 211.13 mph.
"You've got to run somebody, so at least we lucked out and still managed to make the field," Connolly said. "We haven't made a good run since we've been here. It's up in the air who can win. We know we've got the power under the hood, so it's just whether we can make a decent run tomorrow against him.
"If we do, it's played out perfect, (GK Motorsports teammate) Erica (Enders) being No. 1 qualifier. We've got her right there at 19, 20 points down on him, so if we can take him out first round, that'll move her into fourth. It's a huge run, for sure."
Connolly, a 22-time national-event winner in Pro Stock, is confident the team can step up Sunday.
"I know we can make a lot better run," Connolly said. "We're going to try to race smart. I don't think we're going to go out there and shoot ourselves in the foot or swing for the fence. If we can get close to him and leave on him a little bit, it should make for a great race.
"Edwards is no joke. He's a past world champ, and he's that for a reason. We're definitely up for the challenge."
Connolly is ready for the challenge of guiding Enders on a deep run, too, as they are on opposite sides of the Pro Stock ladder. Connolly and Tommy Utt serve as crew chiefs for Enders, who has won the last two races and three of the last six. She's qualified No 1 in Indy.
"Erica's car is still running on mean," Connolly said. "We're going to try to continue the roll that we're on."
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