Dave Connolly, who owns 26 NHRA Wally trophies, finished third in the standings four times as a Pro Stock driver and guided Tanner Gray to his 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock championship, has joined KB Racing’s brain trust, working side by side with the team’s lead crew chief Rob Downing.
KB Racing prepares Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stock race cars for multiple championship holders Greg Anderson and Jason Line under the Summit Racing banner. They’re also responsible for the preparation of 2017 Pro Stock champion Bo Butner’s Camaro, together with the Chevy Camaro race cars campaigned by Deric Kramer and Fernando Cuadra. KB Racing has amassed eight Mello Yello championships along with 149 Pro Stock victories.
“Our team is a little different than most of the others, in that we operate as one group with everyone working on the same thing,” Downing explained. “Dave will be working with me, with Greg and Jason. Together we’ll work to make all the KB Racing cars run as well as possible. It will be just like it has been, only with an additional person.”
Connolly was a rival to KB for many years as both a driver and crew chief. The Ohio-born racer’s first victory came in 2004 over Minnesota native Greg Anderson at Brainerd International Raceway. “It’s funny how things happen in the racing world,” Connolly said. “For a while there, if you would have walked through the NHRA pits at any given race, I don’t think you could have found a person who was a fan of both KB Racing and me. It would have been either one or the other.
“But we always got along great and had a mutual respect for one another,” Connolly continued. “It was quite a ride competing against those guys, and I can tell you that Greg Anderson was the one giving me my lickings when I first started racing Pro Stock.”
While Connolly has been able to work with some of the greats in Pro Stock and in Top Fuel, where he spent time as a driver with Bob Vandergriff Racing, “I haven’t been exposed to how different teams work. To have the opportunity to work with guys like Rob Downing and be exposed to the things that they do will be a huge learning experience for me. They have a lot of knowledge and expertise, and I think it’s going to be an exciting year.”
Anderson, who has amassed 91 NHRA national event wins and four Mello Yello Pro Stock championships in his career, believes Connolly “will be a great addition to KB Racing. He brings a lot of experience to the table, especially these last couple of years as Tanner’s crew chief. We believe he’ll work well with Rob and that was important to us. Rob has run this ship the last 15 years, so it had to be the right fit.”
Downing agrees that adding Connolly is a good fit for KB Racing. “Dave has proven talent both as a driver and as a crew chief. He has a similar mentality as we do. It’s all about the racing for us, and it’s the same for Dave. We’ve known him a long time and he’s always been a good guy to be around – other than when he was beating us.”
Connolly will get the opportunity to find his way with KB Racing as they prepare for the first race of the year next weekend, the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona. The North Carolina-based team is joining other west-bound teams that are testing this week and into next at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park outside Phoenix, Arizona. “We’re looking forward to working with Dave, and we’ll be putting him right to work at the test session in Phoenix, ahead of the Winternationals,” Anderson confirmed.