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NASCAR-FMT: Fast Run Ends Early for Connolly at Nazareth

20 May 1998

Nazareth PA: The Featherlite Modified Series thundered into the Lehigh Valley for the running of the First Union 100 at Nazareth Speedway. Nazareth is where driver Tim Connolly picked up his first Featherlite Modified Series win back in 1993, and was a favorite to visit victory lane again at the one-mile facility. Saturday's qualifying saw the Endicott NY resident pilot the Ralston-Purina/Tidy Cat Dodge to it's first Bud Pole Award of the season with a lap over two-tenths of a second faster than runner-up Mike Stafanik. Sunday's 100-lap event began with Connolly settling in behind Stafanik in the early portions of the race. The two modified veterans separated from the rest of the field early, and dueled for the first half of the race. Connolly had muscled the Bob Garbarino owned Mystic Missile past Stafanik on lap 49, only to have the caution fly one lap later. With Connolly among those who chose to pit, the #4 joined the field midway through the pack for the restart. Connolly worked his way back toward the front and was ready to post a top ten finish. With two laps left, the #44 of Tommy Cravenho cut a tire. When the field checked up behind Cravenho, Connolly was hit from behind by John Blewett III, sending the Ralston-Purina/Tidy Cat Dodge into the wall. When the #4 came off of the wall, it made heavy contact with yet another car. Connolly emerged from the Mystic Missile, and was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital for observation and treated for torn ligaments in his thumb. Tests for a concussion and internal injuries proved negative. Looking back at the race Connolly says, "It was a lot of fun in the early going of the race. We had a good car the first half when we were running up there with Mike. When we came out from the pitstop, the car was loose the rest of the way." Car owner Bob Garbarino reflected on the weekend and said, "It was a shame. We had a very good car and were probably the only ones capable of running with Mike, but things can happen when you have to get through traffic at Nazareth. We can always fix the car, but Tim's health is the priority right now." At the end of the day, Connolly was credited with a 28th place finish in the event won by Stafanik.

Thanks!: Tim Connolly and the Mystic Missile Racing Team would like to thank the Lehigh Valley Hospital and their entire staff for the care received following Tim Connolly's accident Sunday afternoon. Connolly says, "The trauma unit had a team that did a great job. They expertly ran a whole battery of tests, and it's a comfort knowing that such skilled professionals are available to the public."

Mark Your Calendar: The Featherlite Modified Series will be back in action on Friday night, May 22 at Stafford Motor Speedway. For more information on the activities at Jack Arute's half mile facility, contact the track at (860) 684-6236.