ELYRIA, Ohio --
A week removed from ligament surgery at Ohio State University's Sports Medicine Clinic in Columbus, the Pro Stock driver from Elyria, Ohio, says " everything is going well. The doctor said it was a big tear and that the knee will be a lot better now."
He's already feeling the difference. "There is a little discomfort, but in a couple weeks it should be in pretty good shape," Connolly added. "By the first of the year it will be ready to go and be 100 percent recovered."
Connolly and Evan Knoll's Torco Racing Chevy Cobalt crew at Victor Cagnazzi Racing are eager to resume their search for the series championship. They came so close this season during a strong title run. Not capturing the biggest trophy was the only smudge on a near-perfect campaign.
"It was definitely a great season. There were a lot of highs," Connolly said. "It was the best of my career. We won eight races and got in the NHRA Pro Stock record book with Greg (Anderson), Bob Glidden and Ronnie Sox with our five straight wins, and we won the U.S. Nationals for the first time.
"The most races I'd won in a season before was three, and we almost tripled that."
For some reason, threes continue to play major roles in Connolly's racing career. He finished third three times in four years - 2003, 2005 - and again in 2007, despite holding the points lead going into the final two events in NHRA's inaugural Countdown format
"It was a shame we had to end the season that way because we had hopes of everything turning out a little differently . . . but that's the way things work out sometimes," Connolly opined. "The reality of it is we just didn't do a good job of racing on Sunday (at the last two races). We were the No. 1 qualifier at Las Vegas and Pomona. We made a bad run in Vegas and then I went out and screwed up badly at Pomona.
"We were our own worst enemy in the last couple of races, that's for sure. We made the best decisions we could and they just weren't the right calls. Everybody throughout the season had their moments and ours came at a very bad time. It just wasn't meant to be this year."
When Connolly's Cobalt makes its first competitive runs at the Winternationals, Feb. 7-10, at Pomona, the number 3 will be in the window, but Connolly believes "our team was a lot better than third. We know we are a championship-contending team and we should be carrying a higher number. But, as long as we know that, and with our capabilities, we have plenty of time to race.
"I definitely want to get my first world championship under my belt and I'd like to get that of the way in 2008. Hopefully we can make that happen."
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