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Millican On Top In Top Fuel In Atlanta

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 5 2018

Clay Millican stormed to the provisional pole in Top Fuel Friday night in Atlanta.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Already the quickest Top Fuel pairing on the planet, Clay Millican and crew chief David Grubnic padded their reputations for generating big-horsepower during Friday’s opening two rounds of time trials for the 38th annual NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

Millican set the Top Fuel track speed record at the facility in Commerce, Ga., covering the 1,000-foot distance in 3.758-seconds and 331.12 mph during the evening session. The Tennessee native currently holds the national elapsed time record of 3.628-seconds, set during the season-opening Winternationals  at Pomona, Calif., in February. Millican will look to secure his third pole of the season and 13th of his career when qualifying continues Saturday.

“To go 331 mph in Atlanta is pretty cool,” Millican said. “The car is the quickest in the world and I’m proud of that. We’ve had a little problem when it’s hot outside. What surprised me is that this car is starting to run speed, because last year we didn’t run speed.”

Leah Pritchett of Don Schumacher Racing is second after a pass of 3.789-seconds at 314.83 mph, with reigning world champ Brittany Force of John Force Racing third at 3.799/319.60.

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as provisional qualifying leaders at the seventh of the 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Two-time/reigning Funny Car world champion Hight’s second 1,000-foot pass of 3.952-seconds at 327.59 mph took him to the top of the category. Hight, of John Force Racing, is chasing his second pole of the season and 59th of his career.

“I’m pretty impressed with that run,” Hight said. “If you look at all the other runs, the others were in the right lane. The left lane is a little trickier here. To get the No. 1 spot out of the left lane is pretty impressive. We haven’t run that well in a couple of races.”

Hight’s best pass came after an early shutoff during his first qualifying try, prompting crew chief Jimmy Prock to make several changes to the car’s setup.

“Leaving the pits usually Jimmy Prock will give me an idea of what this Auto Club Chevrolet is going to run,” Hight said. “We changed so many things and normally we don’t do that unless we’re testing. My clutch pack that we’ve had this year has been too aggressive, so we decided we’re just going to bite the bullet and make the changes here. We had to make big changes tonight and we had no idea what it was going to run.

“It left good and we had good early numbers. I’m really impressed with the speed. Running 327 mph, I don’t think anyone else in Funny Car even ran 320 mph. We definitely have it hooked up. We probably learned something that will help us down the road. It was a good run. It felt good to see that 3.95 come up on the scoreboard.”

Meanwhile, team-owner John Force marked his 69th birthday at the racetrack by running 4.042-seconds at 320.81 mph in the second session. After a tumultuous start to the season, the 16-time world champion is going through “the process” with the engine in his PEAK Chevy Camaro SS.

“We don’t want to push it until we get to know it,” said Force, who has experienced a series of blown engines and destroyed flopper bodies in 2018. “We made two runs and they may not have been too exciting, but we’re sixth in the show right now and it ain’t breaking any parts. We’re going to lean on it tomorrow.”

Four-time world champ Anderson holds the top spot in Pro Stock after covering the traditional quarter-mile in 6.593-seconds at 210.11 mph in his red Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS. Anderson is seeking his fourth pole and first victory of the season. He also is looking to notch the 97th pole of his career in his 20th season of wheeling a “Factory Hot Rod.”

“We’re building towards our first win of the year, and it’s definitely going to happen,” said Anderson, who has been No. 1 at Atlanta Dragway on seven previous occasions. “Qualifying No. 1 is great, but it’s usually by thousandths of a second and anyone can win on Sunday. Right now, Pro Stock is the toughest it’s ever been and there are a dozen cars out there that can get the pole. The class is healthy and with this great competition we’re having a ball. It’s a He-man chore to win a race, but we’ve got the car to do it.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith sits as the No. 1 qualifier after a quarter-mile pass in 6.882-seconds at 196.13 mph aboard his Victory Magnum during the first round of qualifying. Smith chose to sit-out the second round.

“We made a pretty good pass the first run,” said Smith, a two-time world champion. “We decided to save parts and pieces. For Saturday, we’re going down one pass. I think we’ll be pretty good and if the weather’s good we should be able to put a good time down.”

Four-time/reigning PSM world champion Eddie Krawiec is second after a pass of 6.884-seconds at 195.05 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod.

Qualifying is scheduled to continue at 11:15 a.m. (EDT) on Saturday. FOX Sports 1’s coverage on Sunday will begin with “NHRA Today” at 11:30 a.m. (EDT), with a three-hour finals program beginning at 6 p.m. 

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Friday’s provisional qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 38th annual NHRA Southern Nationals Powered by Mello Yello at Atlanta Dragway, seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations:

Top Fuel _ 1. Clay Millican, 3.758-seconds, 331.12 mph; 2. Leah Pritchett, 3.789, 314.83; 3. Brittany Force, 3.799, 319.60; 4. Doug Kalitta, 3.800, 323.81; 5. Richie Crampton, 3.870, 294.43; 6. Blake Alexander, 3.884, 316.23; 7. Bill Litton, 3.901, 311.92; 8. Mike Salinas, 3.927, 304.46; 9. Pat Dakin, 4.193, 206.13; 10. Tony Schumacher, 4.219, 212.26; 11. Antron Brown, 4.435, 185.10; 12. Terry McMillen, 4.880, 152.50; 13. Steve Torrence, 5.066, 136.50; 14. Terry Haddock, 5.530, 120.95; 15. Audrey Worm, 6.070, 99.88; 16. Scott Palmer, 9.528, 88.29.

Funny Car _ 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.952, 327.59; 2. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.969, 316.38; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.974, 319.90; 4. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.987, 312.64; 5. Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 4.001, 316.15; 6. John Force, Camaro, 4.042, 320.81; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.045, 315.93; 8. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.055, 313.80; 9. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.061, 316.82; 10. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.183, 296.89; 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.606, 181.03; 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.666, 174.64; 13. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.850, 166.72; 14. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.857, 171.75; 15. Jim Campbell, Charger, 6.020, 107.26; 16. John Smith, Chevy Monte Carlo, 7.189, 84.84.

Pro Stock _ 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.593, 210.11; 2. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.601, 209.46; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.603, 207.94; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.606, 209.07; 5. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.615, 207.88; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.620, 209.39; 7. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.620, 209.33; 8. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.627, 209.20; 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.630, 208.84; 10. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.658, 208.01; 11. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.729, 207.08; 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.750, 205.26; 13. John Gaydosh Jr., Camaro, 6.798, 203.71; 14. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.890, 201.79; 15. Val Smeland, Camaro, 7.222, 146.51; 16. Bo Butner, Camaro, 7.753, 124.90.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.882, 196.13; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.884, 195.05; 3. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.889, 193.13; 4. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.891, 195.22; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.895, 193.88; 6. Hector Arana Jr., EBR, 6.901, 197.02; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.904, 192.58; 8. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.911, 196.62; 9. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.915, 194.80; 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.919, 193.24; 11. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.942, 193.85; 12. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.953, 192.06; 13. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.971, 192.47; 14. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.980, 193.18; 15. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.981, 188.41; 16. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.041, 189.66.

Not Qualified _ 17. Karen Stoffer, 7.053, 190.35; 18. Mark Paquette, 7.056, 188.20; 19.Kelly Clontz, 7.155, 186.12; 20. Andie Rawlings, 7.231, 181.76.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 5 2018
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