BRISTOL, Tenn., June 17, 2018: Much like the perfect ending for the Parts Plus/Great Clips team last year in Bristol, the First Act of this weekend’s Thunder Valley Nationals pointed to another dramatic Hollywood finish for Clay Millican, who won his first Top Fuel Wally in memory of his late son, Dalton, at Bristol Dragway on Father’s Day 2017.
Delighted to be racing in his home state, the popular Tennessee native appeared destined to repeat as the event title champion in Top Fuel when the Parts Plus dragster shook off a miscue in Q1 and came back to clock the quickest run of the second qualifying round with a spectacular, header-flamed time of email@example.com to go to the head of the class at the session’s end.
The Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel dragster’s Q2 incremental times: 60 ft-0.846 sec.; 330 ft-2.166; and 660 firstname.lastname@example.org mph.
“Y’know, typically we swing aggressively for the home run on Fridays, but we were just trying to get down the racetrack and put a number on the board in Q2,” Millican says. “Turned out to be a better number that we had figured. We’re going to get after it tomorrow, because we feel can do better despite the humidity we’re anticipating on Saturday and Sunday. But I will say it again—we’ve proven this Parts Plus car is capable of running crazy quick no matter what, in any conditions.”
Millican’s summer blockbuster of a season continued on Saturday in Act II, backing up the Parts Plus driver’s assessment of his black, orange-and-red rocket ship’s speedy prowess in any kind of elements.
While other teams struggled with Bristol’s sticky, tricky mess of a track, Millican and Stringer Performance crew chief David “Grubby” Grubnic were able to get the Parts Plus/Great Clips car straight down the groove quickly on consecutive runs in Q3 and Q4. Millican also clocked the quickest passes of each round, locking up yet another No. 1 qualifier by the end of the afternoon.
Officially, Millican’s Q3 incremental times were as follows: 60 ft—0.864 sec.; 330 ft—2.225; and 660 ft—email@example.com mph. The Parts Plus dragster closed out qualifying with a second-consecutive solid pass in stifling conditions, running a firstname.lastname@example.org mph.
For those keeping score at home, that’s five top qualifying spots in 11 events this season, earning bonus points along the way for Millican and the Parts Plus team.
“For this Parts Plus car to put up a 3.92 in this heat is a testament to Grubby and our entire team,” says Millican, as the No. 1 qualifier collected his latest green hat of the year and the 15th of his Top Fuel career. “I am so proud of these guys because they work so hard to give me this opportunity, so I go out there knowing I have the quickest car—but I’m also sayin’ to myself, ‘Hey, don’t mess this up!’”
Millican’s inspirational tale of the track took a slightly dark turn in the Third Act, as if a meddling studio exec had suddenly called for rewrites on a story we all know and love. After outrunning No. 16 qualifier Terry Totten as expected in round one of Sunday’s eliminations, the Parts Plus dragster lined up against Mike Salinas for a second-round showdown.
Salinas seized the advantage by a few ticks at the Christmas tree and never trailed for the win, as the Parts Plus car was up in smoke quickly. Although Salinas was dropping cylinders on the top end, he managed to hang on for the win. Salinas went on to reach his first final round in Top Fuel but came up short to event winner Tony Schumacher.
“Obviously as the No. 1 qualifier, we felt great coming into today, but that track in these conditions was challenging,” Millican says. “The Parts Plus car lost traction right at the hit—it just wasn’t our day. But overall the weekend was pretty good, as we picked up some bonus points, and we are still clinging onto that No. 2 position in points. We’ve put ourselves in a great position near the midway point, so we have just to have to finish strong and sharpen our consistency a bit on Sundays. With the way we’ve been running the last several weeks, I like our chances.”