LAS VEGAS, NV – March 27, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Clay Millican is still trying to chase down that elusive first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victory, but a new approach and a team entering its third year together has provided a recipe Millican believes will lead to a win sooner rather than later.
As for how soon, Millican is confident it won’t be long in his 10,000-horsepower Great Clips/Parts Plus dragster, and perhaps as quickly as this weekend’s 18th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I think a win is right around the corner,” said Millican, who has eight career finals appearances. “It’s just a matter of when we’re supposed to win. Every weekend we go, I think it’s going to be the weekend. I really feel like we can get a win. This is our third year with this group and I think it’s the best group of people working on this car this team has ever had. They looked like they were in mid-season form after the first test session. They know what they’re doing and they’re not second-guessing it.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including three hours of live finals coverage starting at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. The first of two annual stops in the high-stakes city is the fourth of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events during the 2017 season, and Millican enters the race ninth in points after falling in the second round to eventual winner and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher at the most recent race in Gainesville, Fla.
Millican has grabbed round wins at each of the past two events this season, but after posting a career-best run of 3.689 at 328.38 mph at the fall race in Vegas last year, there’s been an early-season shift for crew chief David Grubnic and Millican’s team. The performance is still there – Millican ran 3.71 in Phoenix – but Millican believes a different focus will have a payoff throughout the season.
“I think our goal this year has been to try to find some consistency,” Millican said. “We didn’t miss the mark too much at Gainesville and went down the track five out of six runs, which is fantastic. We’re going to try to maintain that without giving away a ton of performance. I feel like our chances of winning are way better the more you go down the racetrack. Plus, the more runs you make down the track, the more information you get for when you do you need to push it.”
Millican hopes that balance allows his team to end up in the winner’s circle on Sunday. Getting that first victory will be difficult facing off against a loaded field that includes points leader and two-time 2017 winner Leah Pritchett, three-time defending world champ Brown, Schumacher, Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force. No matter the outcome, you will surely find Millican with a smile on his face all weekend.
“I’ve been in a final round there and we run well there,” Millican said. “This first (Las Vegas) race is especially fun because it’s the DENSO (Spark Plugs NHRA) Nationals and we are the DENSO car. That makes it a lot of fun. I really enjoy the Vegas races and I really enjoy being around the DENSO people. As long we’re talking about what we do as a race team, I can talk all day long. When it comes to talking racing, I can talk with the best of them.”
Alexis DeJoria’s Funny Car win was her second in three years at the track, but she’ll have to contend with two-time 2017 winner Matt Hagan, Gainesville winner John Force and defending world champ Ron Capps, a five-time Vegas winner.
Jason Line’s dominant start to last season in Pro Stock that included a victory at the facility, ended with a world title. The event also features the highly-anticipated K&N Horsepower Challenge for eight top Pro Stock drivers. Greg Anderson is the defending winner, earning a $50,000 paycheck last year.
Thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series is also on the bill and after nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Muy Caliente Racing jet dragsters sponsored by Lucas Oil. Jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
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 firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to 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 2:00 and 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 31 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 1, at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 2.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
WHAT: The 18th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, the fourth of 24 events in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The race also will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series.
WHERE: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas. Track is located approximately 15 miles north of downtown Las Vegas off Interstate 15.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, March 31-April 1
FRIDAY, March 31 –
LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2 and 4:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 1 –
LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:40 and 4:05 p.m.
K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE at 1:30, 4 and 5 p.m.
SUNDAY, April 2 –
Pre-race ceremonies, 11:15 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon
SUNDAY, April 2, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 6 p.m. (ET)
2016 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock; Anderson, K&N Horsepower Challenge.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 6, FC: Larry Dixon, 4, TF; Tony Schumacher, 4, TF; Antron Brown, 3, TF: Robert Hight, 3, FC; Greg Anderson, 3, PS; Jeg Coughlin, 3, PS; Kenny Bernstein, 2, TF; John Force, 2, FC; Cruz Pedregon, 2, FC; Mike Edwards, 2, PS; Erica Enders, 2, PS; Allen Johnson, 2, PS.
MOST K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE VICTORIES: Greg Anderson, 5; Kurt Johnson, 4; Jeg Coughlin, 3; Bob Glidden, 3; Warren Johnson, 3; Larry Morgan, 3; Bruce Allen, 2; Erica Enders, 2; Allen Johnson, 2; Jim Yates, 2
Top Fuel – 3.689 sec. by Steve Torrence, Oct. ’16 and 332.67 mph by Shawn Langdon, Oct. ’15.
Funny Car – 3.871 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’16 and 331.94 mph by John Force, Oct. ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.559 sec. and 210.28 mph by Erica Enders, Oct. ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.658 sec. by Leah Pritchett, Feb. ‘17, Phoenix; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ’14, Englishtown N.J.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 644-4444. Tickets also available online at www.lvms.com/tickets.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association