INDIANAPOLIS — The NHRA U.S. Nationals are to drag racing what one of the four PGA majors are to golf.
For drivers that have never won in Indianapolis, it’s noted on their career record — in red ink.
For those that make it to the final and fall short, it’s a feeling that sits with them until the following season.
Things are a little different for Elyria High grad Dave Connolly. The Pro Stock driver fell short in the event final at the 60th annual U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway on Monday, but his loss was a bit easier to take because Connolly already owned three career wins at Indianapolis and because of who actually beat him for the championship … teammate Shane Gray.
Connolly was glad to see Gray take home the title.
“It’s extra special because Shane and I have become really close friends,” Connolly said. “This time around it’s all smiling faces after the final. He’s a great guy and I’m glad he got the win.”
Connolly has one NHRA national event win under his belt this season and 24 during his career. It was his fifth career finals appearance at the U.S. Nationals.
After making solid passes throughout the event, Connolly’s 2014 Camaro moved out of the groove in the final round and he had to take his foot off the accelerator.
“It was a bummer because we didn’t get to make a side-by-side pass,” Gray said. “We didn’t want anything more than for both cars to make a really solid lap in the finals.”
Prior to the final, NHRA sprayed traction compound in Connolly’s lane to ensure the racing surface was in good condition. It was something Connolly did not plan for.
“I knew I was in trouble as soon as they decided to spray the starting line,” he said. “We tried to make a few adjustments and it just didn’t pan out.
“We’re definitely going to have to go back to the drawing board and see what we can do in those kinds of conditions.”
Connolly finished the U.S. Nationals in the top 10 in the series points list, meaning he qualified for the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship.
The points will be reset and, starting at the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Charlotte on Sept. 12-14, the 10 eligible drivers will race to determine the 2014 world champion.
“I still feel great about my car,” Connolly said. “Keeping up the kind of performance we had here in Indy for six straight weeks will win us the championship.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.