Topeka, Kan., 5/26/2015: After last week’s impressive first-round win in hot Atlanta temps, driver Clay Millican was confident the Parts Plus/Great Clips team had all the data they needed to perform well at the Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka over Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, Mother Nature threw the team a curve.
Rain showers and the resulting cool weather made Parts Plus/Great Clips crew chief David Grubnic call for a change in plans.
“We were looking for hot conditions because traditionally that’s what we have here in Topeka,” Millican said. “Grubby addressed all the issues we had in Atlanta and the car was ready to go. The weather was much cooler than expected, so we had to shift mentally from carefully going down a hot racetrack to swinging for the fences all weekend.”
The Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster set the tone early with a great pass right down the groove in Q1, officially clocking a [email protected] mph. Millican’s incremental times: 60ft-0.836 sec.; 330ft-2.130; and [email protected] mph.
“The car pretty much responded to what we wanted to do—a 3.79 on the opening lap certainly made things a lot less stressful for the rest of qualifying. We went for the homerun shot in Q2 to try to be the number-one qualifier and got the tires loose.”
When qualifying resumed Saturday, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster launched hard and kept it hooked up the rest of the way for a great pass: [email protected] mph. Millican’s incremental times for Q3: 60ft-0.840 sec.; 330ft-2.128; [email protected] mph.
Rain showers hammered the track, resulting in Q4 being cancelled.
“I really wanted another shot because I think we had a car capable of qualifying higher than we did,” said Millican, who officially qualified 10th, ensuring a round 1 showdown with defending event champion Spencer Massey.
On Sunday, the Parts Plus/Great Clips car shook the tires right at the hit and Millican pedaled it to salvage a 3.865. That wasn’t enough to beat Massey, who had his quickest pass of the weekend straight down the track with a [email protected] mph and a MOV of 0.1572 seconds.
“The car just didn’t do what we wanted it to do in first round,” Millican said. “It had been pretty predictable up until that point. Heading into this weekend, we had won a round in five straight races. We were all certainly disappointed in losing first round, but it was one of those days where we were really aggressive because we knew we weren’t going to get away with an 86 to give us a win. We already ran a 3.75 earlier this year, and we would loved to have done that racing beside Spencer, but we didn’t.”
The round-one result surprised Grubnic, who experienced his first and last wins as a driver in Topeka.
“When I left the racetrack, Grubby was still there going through computer data trying to figure out exactly where the car didn’t do what he planned on it doing,” Millican said. “But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Grubby, he will find out exactly what caused it. The guy is just that good.”
Millican was very pleased with how the Parts Plus/Great Clips team handled their first back-to-back races in the 2015 Mello Yello Series.
“The team was awesome. We actually brought a Funny Car driver named Jack Wyatt, who observed the team and gave us a few pointers on where we could pick up a few minutes here and there.
Our guys are doing awesome; it’s just down now to the little details. Jack told us that he was very impressed with the group that we have assembled, which was pretty nice coming from a guy who’s always around successful teams. It’s a little hard to say this after losing first round, but we are getting better and better.”