There was an Elyrian in the winners’ circle Sunday at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway, but it wasn’t Pro Stock driving Dave Connolly. It was his father, Ray Connolly.
Ray drove his Chevy Corvette to the win in Super Gas over Randy Nygaard of Watertown, S.D.
As for Dave, a second-round loss left him watching as teammate Jeg Coughlin defeated Greg Anderson for the Pro Stock title. With the win, Coughlin became just the 11th racer in NHRA’s 56-year history with 50 national wins.
The younger Connolly began the day with the quickest Pro Stock elapsed time of the weekend, but a clutch problem in the quarterfinals forced him out of contention.
After downing Tom Hammond in the opening round, he was forced to abort his second-round run against Anderson when tire shake set in.
“We were chasing a problem during qualifying,” said Dave, who was seeking his second consecutive triumph at the unique track in the middle of Minnesota, “and we had a mishap with the clutch. We put in new clutch discs for eliminations and one disc was warped. That made the car aggressive on the starting line and the tires shook real bad. The car still ran pretty good, but it should've definitely been in the semifinals or finals.”
In the day’s other finals, John Force won his 125th Funny Car event by beating Kenny Bernstein by about two feet in a meeting of drag-racing legends.
In the two legends’ first meeting in 18 years, Force’s 4.794-second run at 316.60 mph was faster by .0048 seconds.
Bernstein’s son, Brandon, beat Larry Dixon in the Top Fuel final with a run of 4.525 seconds.
Coughlin’s 50 career wins have come in both Pro and Sportsman categories. He got his third Pro Stock win of the season Sunday, giving him 37. His 13 sportsman wins are in four different classes: Super Stock (seven), Super Gas (four), Competition (one), and Top Dragster (one).