Up until last Friday evening, Dave Connolly hadn’t foot-braked a race car since his mother’s Chevrolet Cavalier when he was 15. A week later he won the CC/SA class at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis while driving Pro Stock team owner Victor Cagnazzi’s new 2012 COPO Camaro. He also beat seasoned veteran Dan Fletcher in the first round of eliminations.
No small feat for a driver who had less than eight runs of this style race car. Even more impressive is the car only had four runs before it rolled through the gates of Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
“We didn’t get a lot of test time with it,” admitted Connolly, who is also racing Pro Stock this weekend. “We tested for two days and after spending countless hours working on engines and the fine details, Victor showed up at Rockingham with this car at 8:30 Friday night and we made four runs with the car.
“For the little bit of time we had to test, and to go out there and win class, and do as well as we have done is a big statement for GM. It’s got a lot left. We haven’t had a lot of test time to get everything dialed in.”
Connolly qualified No. 62 in the 163-car field by running a 9.656, .944 under the index.
“I’ve always wanted to run Stock or Super Stock,” Connolly explained. “I’ve always wanted to give bottom bulb racing a try, but my thing has always been the pro-tree and bracket racing.”
Connolly realizes his Stock eliminator experience might be living on borrowed time. Eventually Cagnazzi has visions of driving his special edition Bowtie.
“I asked him on the last run at Rockingham if he wanted to make it,” Connolly revealed. “I know he wanted to and he eventually will.”
Cagnazzi actually has driven the new car, but not on the strip. He has taken a leisurely stroll around the back roads of Mooresville, NC.
“It’s really a lot of fun,” said Cagnazzi. “I just thought the first runs should have been made by him because he’s a better driver than me. My time will come.”
Until then, Connolly plans on getting the job done as best he can.
“The plan is to take the car to Charlotte and beyond that, who knows?” Connolly concluded.
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