GAINESVILLE, FLA: As Clay Millican made the drive home toward Tennessee after the weekend’s Gatornationals in Florida, he reflected on the ups and downs of what was a mixed bag of racing for the Parts Plus Top Fuel team as part of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Series.

“Y’know, we’re still trying to figure out this new [6-disc] clutch,” said Millican, hours after his opening-round elimination loss Sunday to David Grubnic. “It’s just part of the whole process, but we sure didn’t get a handle on the clutch this weekend, that’s for sure.

“But it’s never really a matter of thinking, ‘Oh, now we’ve got it,’ because every run, you’re putting new clutch discs in the car. Despite always trying to keep it as close as possible as you can, it’s absolutely always a moving target.”

Heading into Sunday’s E1 showdown, Millican and Grubnic had split the previous 16 elimination runs against each other, with eight wins each. The Parts Plus/Liquid MPG dragster was out of the gate first Sunday but was up in smoke quickly, giving Grubnic the edge with the ninth win between the two.

As a veteran racer who always looks at the big picture, Millican shook off the loss and pointed to the fact that the team had its fast 60-ft time (.832) of the 2014 campaign over the weekend in qualifying.

“That was obviously one of the runs where we had the clutch perfect in the early going, but we didn’t have it figured out from the midpoint to the end—that thing just didn’t hold on. But all the data tells us that this clutch is gonna run really good; we just have to get it dialed in a little closer and be more consistent with it.

“I’m really proud of this team for the progress we continue to make.”

Millican is also grateful for another two-week break before the 2014 NHRA campaign resumes in Las Vegas.

“We’re just gonna keep refining everything until then,” he said. “We’re gonna continue to learn more about the car and each other without the pressure of turning the car around in an hour. We’ve got a long way to go this season.”