Clay Millican, Parts Plus / Great Clips Team Swing for the Fences But Come Up Short in Kansas

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.”

Kansas Nationals Fast Facts

Stringer Performance Fast Facts

 

Millican pedals his way to first round win in Atlanta…

After a nail-biting qualifying session, Millican and his Stringer Performance team made it in to the 13th slot for Sunday’s show by running a 3.926 on a hot 122-degree track surface. The track conditions were some of the hottest the team has faced in their debut season. However, they did not let the weather fed adversity hold them down. On Sunday, Millican in his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster was lined up against Steve Torrence in the first round of eliminations. It turned out to be an exciting tire-smoking battle. Torrence had the starting-line advantage before smoking the tires, while Millican was up in smoke right off the line. Both drivers attempted to pedal it, but only Millican was able to get it to hook up. The Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster took the win light with a 3.958 second run at 317.64 mph. The team fell in the second round to Terry McMillen.

 

Crew-chief David Grubnic switches it up heading in to Topeka…

Veteran driver and first time crew-chief David Grubnic is switching up his routine heading in to the season’s first back to back weekend.  Grubnic typically flies back and forth to his home in Montana between races, but this week he’s on the road with his new Stringer Performance team. The young team and crew-chief are using the tight window to make adjustments they discovered were necessary after Atlanta. The team used Atlanta, their hottest race to date, to collect a substantial amount of data on the performance of their Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster in the heat. Grubnic will spent the majority of the week leading in to the Kansas Nationals going over the car’s data and fine tuning his game plan for this weekend’s race. One of the greatest challenges facing the newly formed Stringer Performance team is their lack of data to support the tuning of the car. However, the team has made great strides in their data capture and continues to set the bar higher with every race.

 

Millican continues the hunt for his first Wally…

Millican has some impressive performance stats.  He has six consecutive World Championships and is noted as the winningest driver in IHRA history with 52 national event wins. He has more trophies and awards than he can count except for one – a famed Wally.  Millican and his team have set high goals for themselves including a NHRA championship but it all starts with one thing – a Wally.

 

Clay Millican on conditions in Atlanta and looking to Topeka…

 “The lesson we learned in Atlanta is that we need to get qualified the first day. Atlanta was a difference race for us because we have never run in conditions that hot and did not have the data to lean on in tuning the car. In that way it was a really valuable race for us, because we now have some building blocks to know how our Parts Plus/ Great Clips dragster will perform when it’s incredibly hot out. Looking ahead to this week, Topeka is usually a warm racetrack similar to Atlanta. I don’t think it is supposed to get as hot this race weekend as it was last race weekend. Grubby has spent this entire week leading up to Topeka with the team at our shop in McLeansboro, Illinois going over the car data from Atlanta and putting together another solid plan for the Kansas Nationals. I have been to a final round here before and lost to Dixon. I don’t plan on repeating that loss or any loss this weekend. I have to say one of my favorite things about racing in Topeka is the track’s proximity to a very large National Guard facility. I had the opportunity a few years ago to ride on a National Guard fuel tanker flight at night here. It was a really cool experience for me and I really appreciate everything that those men and women do for our country.”

NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta, GA – Fast Facts

Millican makes second semis appearance of the season in Houston…

Clay Millican and his new Stringer Performance teammates continue to gel into a championship caliber team with every race. Six races into the season, the team that didn’t have a wrench two months before the Pomona race opener has now made two semi-final appearances and one finals appearance. The new group’s incredible showing has placed and held a spot for Millican in the championship point race for more than half the season.  On Sunday in Houston, Millican was matched up with Richie Crampton, fresh off his Top Fuel win at Vegas, in a first-round elimination showdown. In what might have been the most exciting race of the weekend, Millican had the starting line advantage and never trailed—but it was close. The Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster’s [email protected] mph topped Crampton’s [email protected] mph for a margin of victory of 0.0282 seconds (approximately 13 feet). The run was also the fastest pass for Millican and his Stringer Performance team this year. The team kept their Parts Plus/ Great Clips dragster rolling in the second round, but were bumped out of the pack in the semi-finals.

 

Millican to do Mello Yello/ Wal-Mart meet and greet in Commerce, GA…

 Fan favorite Top Fuel driver Clay Millican and his Parts Plus/ Great Clips dragster will be making a special stop to meet with fans and sign autographs ahead of the race weekend at the Atlanta Dragway. Event details are listed below:

Date: May 14, 2015

Time: 4:30pm – 6:30 pm
Location: Walmart Supercenter
                30983 HIGHWAY 441 S
               COMMERCE, GA 30529

 

Millican continues the hunt for his first Wally…

Millican has some impressive performance stats.  He has six consecutive World Championships and is noted as the winningest driver in IHRA history with 52 national event wins. He has more trophies and awards than he can count except for one – a famed Wally.  Millican and his team have set high goals for themselves including a NHRA championship but it all starts with one thing – a Wally.

 

Clay Millican on confidence in his team and racing in Atlanta…

 “I enjoy racing in Atlanta a lot. It’s a race that’s pretty close to home and I get a lot of family and friends out at the track. I’ve also made it to the finals here a long time back and we have a plan in place to repeat that this weekend. I have a lot of confidence in the people on this team. Our car is running really well, but it’s just a tool to get the Wally. What makes the difference is the team behind the car. We didn’t have a wrench two months before the season started, and now we’re six races into the season with two semi-finals and one finals appearance under our belt. I know this car is just going to keep improving because we have such dedicated guys tuning it up every race.  Another thing I’m really looking forward to this weekend is participating in the Mello Yello meet and greet at the Wal-Mart in Commerce, GA. I love getting to see my fans, particularly the kids because they are the ones that take up the mantel from us older guys to keep the sport going.  I also think it’s funny that this is my meet and greet store because it is one of my regular stopping points during the season. A lot people don’t realize that drivers tend to stay at the track in an RV or trailer. When I race in Atlanta that is my go to store before parking at the track for the weekend. ”

 

About Doug Stringer and Stringer Performance

Stringer Motorsports owner Doug Stringer has a lengthy resume in the racing industry. His career essentially began in drag racing having served as general manager for Jim Epler’s Rug Doctor Funny Car in 1996. Eventually he made a business decision to move in to the rapidly growing world of NASCAR racing where a role as general manger turned into an ownership role of a highly successful NASCAR Xfinity Series team. After selling his team in 2006, he formed Stringer Holdings, a sports marketing agency that manages sponsorship and related marketing platforms for various companies in both NASCAR and NHRA.

 Longtime friends, Stringer and Millican have always talked about racing together and last fall the stars suddenly aligned.  Millican was looking for a team to call home in 2015 and Stringer had always desired to return to his roots in drag racing.  Having sponsor Parts Plus already in place with Millican made it a quick and easy decision and Stringer Performance was born. Stringer’s first order of business was the hiring of two essential people – David Grubnic as crew chief and Lance Larsen as general manager.

 

###