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Millican Gets First Win And On Home Soil Yet

| , RacinToday.com Monday, June 19 2017

Clay Millican became an NHRA Top Fuel winner on Sunday. (Photo by Marc Gewertz/NHRA)

Tennessee native Clay Millican raced to an emotional first career NHRA Top Fuel victory Sunday at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at historic Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.

Making his 254th NHRA Top Fuel start and competing in his ninth final-round, Millican recorded a 1,000-foot pass in 3.825-seconds at 316.38 mph to defeat Leah Pritchett’s run in 3.881-seconds at 307.09 mph. Millican, a 51-year-old resident of Drummonds, Tenn., became the 103rd driver to win a Wally Trophy in Top Fuel. 

“I love what I do,” said Millican, driver dragster owned by Doug Stringer and tuned by former racer David Grubnic. “There were times I ever wondered if this was going to happen. I don’t deserve this credit. I’m really happy for David Grubnic and all of the boys who work on this car and I mean that 100 percent.” 

Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock) also were winners in their respective categories at the 11th event of 24 on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. 

Millican, who earned his Top Fuel license in 1998, battled past Kyle Wurtzel, Brittany Force and No. 1 qualifier Steve Torrence en route to the final. Pritchett, of Don Schumacher Racing, defeated Troy Coughlin Jr., Scott Palmer and 2013 world champion Shawn Langdon before falling to Millican.

Millican, who qualified for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs last season for the first time since 2012, now is seventh in points. Pritchett, meanwhile, moved from third to second with her runnerup finish. Torrence has an 11-point lead in the championship standings.

Millican shed some tears during his Winner’s Circle interview when he dedicated his Father’s Day victory to the memory of his late son, Dalton, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in August 2015 near Drummonds.

“I believe everything happens for a reason and I know this is how it was supposed to be,” said Millican, while “Rocky Top” played in the background post-race. “Father’s Day is a tough day for anyone who lost a child. Dalton was riding with me. He got me four win lights. There is no such thing as a coincidence. When the time was right it was going to happen. Today the time was right.”

Reigning Funny Car world champion Capps raced to his fifth victory of the season and 55th of his career in an all-DSR final. Capps prevailed on a hole shot against “Fast” Jack Beckman in his Dodge Charger R/T with a 1,000-foot pass of 4.054-seconds at 317.05 mph.

“We’ve gotten a few lucky rounds, but it’s (the difference) been preparation in the offseason,” said Capp. “We had runs on Sunday against four of the toughest cars, drivers and crew chiefs combined. You read down the list of people we had to beat in a new car that was prepared. There are not very many teams that prepared to pull a car out and have a quicker setup than we were.” 

Capps tied 16-time world champion John Force for most Funny Car victories at Bristol Dragway with four apiece. En route to the final, Capps defeated Alexis DeJoria, 2009 world champ Robert Hight and teammate Matt Hagan, a two-time world champion.

Beckman, the 2012 world champ, defeated two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon, Courtney Force and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. before meeting Capps for the second consecutive final. Beckman defeated Capps in the final last Sunday in the Summernationals at Englishtown, N.J. 

In Pro Stock, Laughlin clinched his first Wally of the season and second of his career with a perfect reaction time in the finals. The Granbury, Texas, resident powered his Chevrolet Camaro to a quarter-mile pass in 6.718-seconds at 205.04 mph to defeat Bo Butner in his Jim Butner’s Auto Camaro. Laughlin, whose car is owned by father Kenny Laughin, is the eighth different Pro Stock winner in 11 events this season.

Alex Laughlin hoisted his Wally in the Winner’s Circle for fans and photographers, and then quietly presented it to his father offstage. “What a Father’s Day gift this is,” Kenny Laughlin said.

Laughlin, the No. 8 qualifier, recorded a 0.000-reaction time on his 6.718-second pass that was quickest of the weekend to win by a car-length. He previously won at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., in 2016, also defeating Butner in the final.

“It’s been an awesome day,” said Laughlin, 28, competing in only his third national event of the season. “First of all, happy Father’s Day to my dad. I’m just so thankful. This is the second dream come true.

“We didn’t really have anything handed to us; we had some good matchups all day. I definitely feel like I had a point to prove. We have a competitive car on the starting line. I came into this weekend with the confidence to win.”

Laughlin raced past 2012 world champion Allen Johnson, No. 1 qualifier and five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. and rookie Tanner Gray before facing Butner in the final. Butner, of Ken Black Racing, defeated Wally Stroupe and two-time world champion Erica Enders en route to his fourth final round this season. 

The 2017 schedule continues with the 11th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals June 22-25 at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. 

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Final finishing order (1-16) at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.  The race is the 11th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _1.  Clay Millican; 2.  Leah Pritchett; 3.  Shawn Langdon; 4.  Steve Torrence; 5.  Scott Palmer; 6.Brittany Force; 7.  Antron Brown; 8.  Mike Salinas; 9.  Kebin Kinsley; 10.  Tony Schumacher; 11.Terry McMillen; 12.  Doug Kalitta; 13.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 14.  Chris Karamesines; 15.  Pat Dakin; 16.  Kyle Wurtzel. 

Funny Car _1.  Ron Capps; 2.  Jack Beckman; 3.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 4.  Matt Hagan; 5.  Robert Hight; 6.  Tim Wilkerson; 7.  Courtney Force; 8.  John Force; 9.  Del Worsham; 10.  Alexis DeJoria; 11.  Cruz Pedregon; 12.  J.R. Todd; 13.  Jonnie Lindberg; 14.  Jim Campbell; 15.  Jeff Diehl; 16.  Bob Bode.

Pro Stock _ 1. Alex Laughlin; 2.  Bo Butner; 3.  Erica Enders; 4.  Tanner Gray; 5.  Shane Gray; 6.  Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 7.  Vincent Nobile; 8.  Allen Johnson; 9.  Jason Line; 10.  Greg Anderson; 11.  Drew Skillman; 12.  Alan Prusiensky; 13.  Wally Stroupe. 

Sunday’s final results from the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway: 

Top Fuel _ Clay Millican, 3.825-seconds, 316.38 mph  def. Leah Pritchett, 3.881-seconds, 307.09 mph. 

Funny Car _ Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.054, 317.05  def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.040, 319.29. 

Pro Stock _ Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.718, 205.04  def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.729, 205.79.

Pro Modified _Troy Coughlin, Chevy Corvette, 5.878, 253.09  def. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.881, 254.76.

Super Stock _ Marty Rinehart Jr., Chevy Camaro, 9.980, 129.23  def. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 8.731, 158.17.

Stock Eliminator _ Jimmy Hidalgo Jr., Pontiac GTO, 10.990, 117.12  def. John Leach, Plymouth Roadrunner, Foul/Red Light. 

Super Comp _ David Morris, Dragster, 8.902, 159.89  def. John Labbous Jr., Dragster, 8.891, 171.75.

Super Gas _ Steve Furr, Chevy Camaro, 9.914, 149.75  def. Jacob Elrod, Chevy Corvette, 9.896, 156.34. 

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com _ Clayton Roberts, Chevy Cavalier, 7.542, 180.31 def. Jeffrey Barker, Chevy Cobalt, 6.704, 197.28.

Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com _ Aaron Stanfield, Dragster, 6.370, 210.41 def. Angie Travis, Dragster, 6.288, 213.33.

Top Fuel Harley _ Tii Tharpe, Dixie, 6.549, 205.01  def. Jay Turner, Dixie, 7.603, 134.20.

Final round-by-round results from the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway:

TOP FUEL

ROUND ONE _ Antron Brown, 3.952, 286.62 def. Pat Dakin, 12.230, 56.62; Clay Millican, 5.313,139.40 def. Kyle Wurtzel, Broke; Shawn Langdon, 4.183, 255.53 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.414, 206.35; Steve Torrence, 4.280, 203.80 def. Chris Karamesines, 8.710, 63.35; Leah Pritchett, 4.378, 186.51 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 4.497, 189.26; Brittany Force, 3.897, 310.55 def. Terry McMillen, 4.283, 252.19; Scott Palmer, 3.969, 307.16 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.076, 275.96; Mike Salinas, 3.855,320.05 def. Kebin Kinsley, 3.850, 317.87;

QUARTERFINALS _ Pritchett, 7.094, 84.32 def. Palmer, Foul/Red Light; Langdon, 4.251, 258.37 def. Brown, 4.310, 263.26; Torrence, 4.000, 309.56 def. Salinas, Broke; Millican, 4.011, 294.18 def. Force, 4.060, 267.85;

SEMIFINALS _ Pritchett, 3.798, 319.90 def. Langdon, 3.901, 308.00; Millican, 3.812, 319.90 def.Torrence, 3.949, 303.57;

FINAL _ Millican, 3.825, 316.38 def. Pritchett, 3.881, 307.09. 

FUNNY CAR 

ROUND ONE _ Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.132, 255.43 def. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.305, 240.89; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.367, 233.12 def. Bob Bode, Dodge Charger, Broke; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.985, 322.58 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 6.461, 105.19; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.387, 233.48 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 6.307, 105.26; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.172, 303.43 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.302, 275.28; John Force, Camaro, 4.136, 312.42 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.211, 303.43; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.104, 315.34 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.246, 278.75; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.105, 314.17 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 5.901, 122.44;

QUARTERFINALS _ Beckman, 4.321, 276.75 def. C. Force, 4.343, 221.42; Capps, 4.090, 314.31 def. Hight, 4.124, 310.55; Johnson Jr., 4.083, 314.53 def. Wilkerson, 4.220, 262.18; Hagan, 4.202,306.95 def. J. Force, Foul /Centerline; 

SEMIFINALS _ Beckman, 4.009, 318.99 def. Johnson Jr., 4.043, 313.29; Capps, 4.045, 314.61 def. Hagan, 5.264, 168.43;

FINAL _ Capps, 4.054, 317.05 def. Beckman, 4.040, 319.29.

PRO STOCK 

ROUND ONE _ Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.761, 204.88 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.735, 205.13; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.752, 205.57 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.765, 203.74; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.743, 204.54 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.748, 204.94; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.736, 204.82 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.758, 204.60; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.742, 205.38 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.807, 203.61; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.714, 205.79 def. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.740, 205.26 was unopposed; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Enders, 6.761, 204.88 def. Nobile, 16.442, 49.55; Laughlin, 6.769, 204.54 def. Coughlin, 10.491, 95.69; T. Gray, 6.748, 204.94 def. S. Gray, 6.783, 205.01; Butner, 6.763, 204.76 was unopposed; 

SEMIFINALS _ Butner, 6.732, 205.44 def. Enders, 6.745, 205.01; Laughlin, 6.767, 204.48 def. T.Gray, Foul/Red Light;

FINAL _ Laughlin, 6.718, 205.04 def. Butner, 6.729, 205.79. 

Point standings (top-10) following the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway: 

Top Fuel _1.  Steve Torrence, 954; 2.  Leah Pritchett, 943; 3.  Antron Brown, 934; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 801; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 678; 6.  Brittany Force, 649; 7.  Clay Millican, 639; 8.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 443; 9.  Scott Palmer, 432; 10.  Terry McMillen, 424.

Funny Car_1.  Ron Capps, 1,044; 2.  Matt Hagan, 881; 3.  Jack Beckman, 748; 4.  Robert Hight, 707; 5. Courtney Force, 704; 6.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 663; 7.  John Force, 641; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 490; 9. J.R. Todd, 476; 10.  Cruz Pedregon, 397.

Pro Stock _1.  Bo Butner, 945; 2.  Greg Anderson, 835; 3.  Tanner Gray, 830; 4.  Jeg Coughlin Jr., 766; 5.  Jason Line, 702; 6.  Erica Enders, 657; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 617; 8.  Drew Skillman, 536; 9.  Shane Gray, 434; 10.  Chris McGaha, 421.

Troy Coughlin powered to victory in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series Sunday during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. The weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by the Real Pro Mod Association, was the seventh of 12 events on the 2017 schedule.

Coughlin posted his first win of the season via a 5.878-second pass at 253.09 mph in his JEGS Mail Order 2015 Chevy Corvette,  defeating No. 1 qualifier Shane Molinari and his S&T Truck Repair Inc. ’68 Pontiac Firebird’s 5.881 at 254.76.

“We’ve had a fantastic car for the last race or so,” Coughlin said. “We struggled a little bit in the middle part of the first half of the season, but it’s definitely coming around.” Coughlin reached his second consecutive final and posted his 10th career win. He currently is second in points while Mike Castellana maintains the lead after a quarterfinal finish. 

NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing visits Norwalk, Ohio, for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park June 22-25.

Final Pro Modified finishing order (1-16) at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway:

  1.  Troy Coughlin; 2.  Shane Molinari; 3.  Rickie Smith; 4.  Jonathan Gray; 5.  Bob Rahaim; 6.  Mike Castellana; 7.  Sidnei Frigo; 8.  Michael Bowman; 9.  Michael Biehle; 10.  Steve Jackson; 11.  Steven Whiteley; 12.  Steve Matusek; 13.  Pete Farber; 14.  Khalid alBalooshi; 15.  Mike Janis; 16.  Jim Whiteley. 

Final round-by-round results from the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway:

PRO MODIFIED 

ROUND ONE _ Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Corvette, 5.927, 249.90 def. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.960, 244.34; Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.842, 254.86 def. Mike Janis, Chevy Camaro, 7.884, 122.87; Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.934, 227.50 def. Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 11.197, 107.31; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 5.898, 246.03 def. Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.901, 243.94; Michael Bowman, Chevy Chevelle, 5.955, 256.50 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 6.036, 243.28; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.867, 246.48 def. Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 5.928, 244.96; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.939, 245.67 def. Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.932, 244.96; Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 5.855, 246.98 def. Michael Biehle, Ford Mustang, 5.895, 252.05;

QUARTERFINALS _ Molinari, 6.162, 248.16 def. Frigo, 8.232, 115.46; R. Smith, 5.941, 245.63 def. Castellana, 7.398, 137.33; Coughlin, 5.890, 253.95 def. Rahaim, 5.933, 246.66; Gray, 5.926, 243.02 def. Bowman, 8.760, 107.46; 

SEMIFINALS _ Molinari, 5.875, 254.52 def. R. Smith, 5.932, 246.35; Coughlin, 5.927, 238.51 def. Gray, 8.965, 84.55; 

FINAL _ Coughlin, 5.878, 253.09 def. Molinari, 5.881, 254.76.

Point standings (top-10) following the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway: 

Pro Modified _1.  Mike Castellana, 584; 2.  Troy Coughlin, 479; 3.  Steven Whiteley, 428; 4.  Shane Molinari, 387; 5.  Steve Jackson, 381; 6.  Steve Matusek, 369; 7.  Sidnei Frigo, 348; 8.  Jonathan Gray, 322; 9.  Khalid alBalooshi, 273; 10.  Danny Rowe, 267.

| , RacinToday.com Monday, June 19 2017
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