Connolly, Will find Summit Park to their liking

CLEVELAND - Dave Connolly and Hillary Will are making appearances at their "home" track this week. Connolly, from Elyria, will be driving the Evan Knoll-owned Torco Racing Fuels/Seelye Wright Automotive Group Chevy Cobalt during this weekend's Inaugural Summit Racing Equipment NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

 

CLEVELAND - Dave Connolly and Hillary Will are making appearances at their "home" track this week.

Connolly, from Elyria, will be driving the Evan Knoll-owned Torco Racing Fuels/Seelye Wright Automotive Group Chevy Cobalt during this weekend's Inaugural Summit Racing Equipment NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.

"Norwalk is the first track I was ever down,'' he said during a media luncheon Thursday at the House of Blues in Cleveland. "It's a beautiful facility. It's been six or seven years since I've been here and I hope it brings more good memories.''

Connolly, 24, graduated from Elyria High School.

"I'm sure I'll see a lot of friends there,'' he said. "It's exciting. Everyone from Grandma to high school friends that I haven't seen in a long time will be stopping by. You always want to perform well at your hometown track.''

Connolly is the Pro Stock division is the points standings and currently sits in third place with 660 points, which is behind Greg Anderson at 954 and Jeg Coughlin Jr. with 753.

Connolly has 10 career Pro Stock victories, including one in St. Louis in 2007, and 25 final rounds.

This season, he has three straight top-five finishes.

"We were second until two weeks ago,'' Connolly said. "Greg and Jason (Line) have kind of a stranglehold on the class. A lot of guys with our team have been around for four years. It shows the dedication and the work the guys have been putting in.''

Will. 27, isn't from Ohio, but the Top Fuel driver from Ypsilanti, Mich. has fond memories of Norwalk.

She won her first national event, the Top Fuel, during the International Hot Rod Association Skull Shine World Nationals at then Norwalk Raceway Park in August.

"We know how to win here,'' Will said. "That was a big deal for the Top Fuel team to win. We feel like this is our track."

In her KB Racing LLC-owned, Kalitta Motorsports-managed team dragster, Will currently is 11th in the class with 421 points.

Rod Fuller tops the class with 688 points. Bob Vandergriff Jr. is eighth at 472 points.

Will needs to reach the Countdown to 8, which is a 17-race "regular season" in which the full-field of drivers in each pro category is reduced to eight who remain eligible for the 2007 POWERade Series world championship.

The top eight drivers in each class will have their points adjusted in 10-point increments with 2,070 to first place and 2,000 to eighth.

The "regular season" ends at the Toyo Tires Nationals Aug. 16 to 19 in Reading, Pa.

"We've qualified 33 times in a row,'' Will said. "We went to the semis last weekend (at Englishtown, N.J.) that was the start of six races in six straight weeks. We have the momentum and want to build on that.''

There are seven women who race professionally in the POWERade Series this year, something Will is proud of.

"It's still a male-dominated sport, but we can compete and win,'' she said. "I have young women tell me they inspire me. I hope the girl in high school wants to take auto shop. That's the kind of feedback I get."

But the objective is still the same.

"The main goal for everybody is to get in the car and wanting to win,'' she said.