ENNIS – On the Friday night of the most recent NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, Top Fuel’s Clay Millican put together the quickest run in NHRA history, going an incredible 3.631 at 330.39 mph. With that in mind, Millican is excited to see what he can do to kick off the second half of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship on Friday at the Texas Motorplex.
It’s the site of this weekend’s AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, and Millican will look to put together another spectacular run in his 10,000-horsepower Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster. He has qualified No.1 in three of the past four events, a nod to crew chief David Grubnic’s masterful performance, and remains in contention for his first NHRA world championship with three events remaining.
“I’m already excited for Friday night and I think we can go quicker,” said Millican, who is currently fifth in Top Fuel points. “There’s other cars that can run those kind of numbers, so Friday night might be like the home run derby or a long drive competition if the conditions are right. Who is going to connect and make the best run? It could be super exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including live finals coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 15. It is the fourth of six events in the Countdown to the Championship and Millican hopes there is still time to catch Texan Steve Torrence, the current points leader who picked up his eighth win of 2017 in St. Louis.
Millican has provided big moments during the Countdown to the Championship but hasn’t had a complete performance, advancing only as far as the semifinals through three events. It’s already been a banner season for the veteran, as Millican picked up his first NHRA Top Fuel win earlier this year in Bristol. But finishing the season strong, grabbing another victory and possibly challenging for a world championship in the loaded class still remains on Millican’s to-do list.
“There’s nothing better than to finish the season on a strong note,” said Millican, who is 141 points behind Torrence. “Whether it’s a win or where you finish when you end the season running well, the momentum definitely carries over. We have shown during the Countdown we can have the quickest car, we’ve just got to complete the mission. We’re going to keep pushing. I believe that we’re going to win more before the season is over and we’ve got three races left to do it.”
To do that, and recreate the scene from his emotional win in Bristol, Millican will have to get past a star-studded field, many of which still have championship aspirations. Torrence holds a 42-point lead over Doug Kalitta and an 83-point advantage on Brittany Force. All three are chasing their first world title, while back-to-back world champ Brown is 94 points back. It all makes for a must-see finish and Millican hopes he’s part of that season-ending conversation as well.
“We have definitely not thrown in the towel,” Millican said. “Do I think it’s over with? Absolutely not, not yet. We’re going to continue pushing our car as hard as we possibly can and try to gather bonus points and win lights. That’s definitely our plan the rest of the way. We’re also looking to have the best finish we’ve ever hard, not only for the team but for me as well. Watching this all develop with this team, it’s been a lot of fun. Putting it all together and having the quickest car is just an amazing thing. There’s no reason we can’t be mixing it up at the top.”
Hagan looks to make a late run in the Funny Car title race, hoping to track down teammate, points leader and reigning world champ Ron Capps, who has back-to-back playoff wins.
Skillman has four Pro Stock wins this season but has yet to break through in the Countdown. Greg Anderson grabbed the points lead with a St. Louis win, while Bo Butner sits just three points back.
Krawiec had been red-hot in Pro Stock Motorcycle, winning three straight races, before LE Tonglet won in St. Louis to pull within 16 points. Andrew Hines sits 72 points back.
The AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, stick around to see the spectacular Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System. Known for their exciting pre-run flame shows and afterburner pops, jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers with an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-668-6775. Tickets also are available online at www.texasmotorplex.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For info about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.