NASCAR-FMT: Third for Connolly at Martinsville
21 April 1998Martinsville VA: The historic Martinsville Speedway offers many challenges to those who race at the half mile facility. In addition to the challenges provided by fellow competitors and the track itself, the Bob Garbarnio owned Ralston-Purina/Tidy Cat Racing Team faced a lack of practice on Saturday due to clutch problems. In fact, the only two laps that the Mystic Missile ran at speed prior to the Goody's 200 was the ones ran during qualifying. Those two laps were all that driver Tim Connolly needed to set the second fastest qualifying lap of the day.
The 200-lap nationally televised event began with Connolly tucking in behind polesitter Mike Stefanik. Stefanik and Connolly set a blistering pace and built a straightaway lead on the field by lap 54. A lap 82 caution brought the field in for pit stops, and the Ralston-Purina/Tidy Cat Dodge rejoined the field in the fourth position.. Just after the halfway point of the race, Connolly worked his way back up to third place behind Stafanik and Mike Ewanitsko. A national television audience looked on from Martinsiville, with Connolly finishing the event in third place in the race won by Ewanitsko.
After the race Connolly said, "Seeing as we didn't get any practice, we went out there and surprised ourselves, and probably a few others by qualifying real well. To get the outside of the front row with no practice made us real happy. Racewise, we had a real good car! We ran second with Michael (Stefanik) and we had a good solid half lap lead on third place. We started second after the restart, but we each had lapped cars in front of us. Unfortunately, the guy ahead of me went completely sidewise, almost causing a big crash. We lost five or six spots getting out of it, but we had to muscle the car pretty good to get back up to the front. We used the car up a little bit, blistering the right rear. All in all though, it was a real good show for us. We're really happy. The day started off pretty ugly, but to come out with a third at Martinsville makes it a happy day for our team, and supporters at Ralston-Purina and Tidy Cat."
Car owner Bob Garbarino reflects on the race and says,"The clutch problem resulting in no practice tested the quality of the Tidy Cat #4 Racing Team. The teams Never Say Die attitude came to the surface again. Im extremely proud of Tim and the entire team for their performance at Martinsville.
The third place finish at the Goody's 200 was Connolly's best career finish at the half mile facility.
Next on the Schedule: The Featherlite Modified Series will be in action at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 26th for the Spring Sizzler.
For more information on the action at Jack Arute's half mile facility, contact the track at (860) 684-2783.