History was made in the Pro Stock category Sunday in the 23rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. It just wasn't the kind of history everyone was expecting.
Twenty-one-year-old Pro Stock driver David Connolly won his first ever NHRA national event, downing the seemingly unbeatable king of Pro Stock racing, Greg Anderson.
Connolly, an underdog after qualifying No. 7 and hadn't won in five previous finals, posted a time of 6.799 at a speed of 203.31 mph to Anderson's 6.81 at 202.91 mph in the finals.
"Every time you run against Greg you have to make the perfect run," said Connolly. "He was driving good all weekend and was making perfect runs. I had to match him."
Anderson was expected to march into the NHRA history book. With a win Anderson would have broken his own record of Pro Stock wins in a season (12) and tied Funny Car driver John Force's record for most season wins in any category (13).
"Connolly's a good, young driver and he's been knocking on the door of a win all season," Anderson said. "It would have been nice to tie the record at my home track but we just didn't have a good weekend."
Now Anderson will have to wait thanks to Connolly's spectacular finals run. Connolly flat out drove by Anderson, beating him by .019 even though Anderson had a better reaction time at the start.
"I never really thought I had a shot, especially with the way Greg's been running," Connolly said. "It was like the earth was lifted off my chest with this win. Greg can wait to make history. He'll have another shot at it."
Connolly's path to the finals was paved by hole-shot wins over Larry Morgan in the quarterfinals and Jason Line in the semifinals. Connolly beat Morgan .042 to .072 while beating Line .032 to .049.
"Jason and Larry Morgan are great," Connolly said. "Every time you run against them you have to be on top of your game. When you get to the finals all the nervousness is gone and you just focus."
Anderson still has a stranglehold on the points lead with 1,723. Teammate Jason Line is second at 1,131 while Connolly remains fourth with 1,031.
In the Pro Stock bike category Craig Treble came from the No. 3 qualifying spot to beat the hard-charging Angelle Savoie.
Treble's time of 7.19 at 183 mph outsprinted Savoie's 7.39 and 150.1 mph to earn his first event win in four finals appearances this season. It was also Treble's first win since the last race of the 2003 season at Pomona, Calif., where he, coincidentally, beat Savoie.
"We knew who we were up against," Treble said of Savoie. "We didn't have a good pass on race day. I didn't see Angelle out of the corner of my eye the whole way down the track. I was fully expecting to see a little yellow bike and (Savoie) coming around me."
Treble beat Mike Berry in the first round and slipped past Shawn Gann in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Treble beat current Pro Stock bike points leader Andrew Hines with a time of 7.33 at 183 mph to 7.60 and 157 mph.
Treble leapfrogged Antron Brown to overtake fourth place in the points standings at 682. Savoie remained in third at 689 and Hines stayed comfortably atop the points standings at 886.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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