CONCORD, N.C.: After leaving Las Vegas two weeks ago with his car dropping cylinders, Parts Plus driver Clay Millican was anxious to gear up for another Sunday of high-stakes racing at “The Bellagio of Dragstrips”: the stunning 4-wide zMax Dragway, located just outside Charlotte.
Good Morning !!! It’s race day 4 Wide, Side by Side. Lets Get It !!!
— Clay Millican (@ClayMillican) April 13, 2014
“This place is awesome,” Millican said. “And the fans are awesome. That sounds canned, but it’s true. It’s a great racing place.”
zMax is definitely one of the grandest and most interesting dragstrips in all of racing, with Sunday’s 16-car elimination bracket featuring heats of four drivers in two pairs of lanes separated by a dividing wall, with the first two crossing the finish line advancing to the next round.
Unfortunately, Millican’s enthusiasm was cut short Sunday by a $3 part failure.
“We broke an exhaust adjuster,” Millican said. “It’s just a little, very inexpensive part. Yes, it looked like it was OK early, but in all truthfulness, it wasn’t.”
In other words, Millican’s day was over before it really started.
“It put a cylinder out on the burnout. The exhaust adjuster broke during the burnout, so pretty much we were toast from the get-go.”
As a result, Millican’s only shot in Sunday’s E1 quad was if two of his three opponents—Antron Brown, Brittany Force and Leah Pritchett—smoked the tires or encountered a malfunction that slowed them down.
At any other event in the 2014 Mello Yello Series, a driver who smokes the tires or has a part break is probably not going to advance to the next round; however, Millican didn’t have to cross the finish line first to move on—just ahead of at least two other drivers in his four-car quad. Because it’s difficult for a driver to see across all lanes, especially for those in the outer lanes, they often have no idea how their other opponents are faring.
Alas, although Millican finished ahead of Pritchett, who lost traction in the middle of the run, the Parts Plus dragster finished behind Brown and Force. Officially, Brown was 0.0445 sec. and about 21 feet ahead of runner-up Force, who was 0.156 sec. and about 65 feet ahead of Millican. The Parts Plus driver finished 3rd—0.553 sec. and 100 feet ahead of 4th-place finisher Pritchett.
“It was just a bad day at the office,” Millican said.
Lane-by-lane time (seconds) and speed (mph) behind leader (or fastest) at each timing increment, (0.000 if leading, 000 if fastest):
Start 60 ft 330 ft 660 ft Finish
Antron Brown: 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000/000 0.000/000
Clay Millican: 0.018 0.054 0.100 0.142/014 0.200/038
Leah Pritchett: 0.017 0.024 0.082 0.368/082 0.753/128
Brittany Force: 0.031 0.026 0.036 0.046/002 0.044/000
Brown went on to win the final-round quad on a hole-shot to earn his first four-wide victory and his second win of the season.
Next Race: April 25–27 at Houston’s Royal Purple Raceway