Clay Millican Records Career-Best Run at NHRA Finals in Pomona

Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel driver Clay Millican made the quickest run of his career over the weekend at the NHRA finals in Pomona, running a 3.729 at 319 mph in Saturday’s fourth round of qualifying.

“That run was incredible,” Millican says. “That was a career-best for everybody on the team, except Grubby [crew chief David Grubnic], who was a tad quicker [3.728] as a driver. This Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster is showing us early numbers that are quicker than any car in the field to the 330-foot mark.”

The Parts Plus team’s weekend started out exactly as planned with a near-perfect run of 3.775 in Friday’s Q1. With a qualifying spot in the top half of the field assured, Grubnic tried a couple of new ideas during to figure out how to finish those quick runs past the 330-ft mark. The team swung and missed in Q2 and Q3 before knocking it out of the park in Q4.

Millican says the Parts Plus/Great Clips hurt a piston on that career-best run, making it all the more impressive. Millican’s Q4 incremental times: times: 60ft-0.825 sec.; 330ft-2.097; and 660ft-2.981/286.56 mph.

Qualified third, Millican would be matched up with Morgan Lucas in Sunday’s first round of eliminations. With the Southern California sun fading in and out Sunday morning, Millican started the day with lane choice and prepared for a slugfest with Lucas, who last year won his 10th career race despite running a limited schedule.

“Lucas may not run that often, but he obviously has one of the best teams out here because he has a team car that’s running all the time,” Millican says. “They’re certainly not lacking any information, so you know that car could go really quick. So Grubby tuned it to run another .72 or maybe even a little quicker.”

The Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster launched hard but then started to lose traction around the 330-ft mark. Millican, however, pedaled it and managed to get it hooked back up to earn the win light with a 3.871 over Lucas, whose car was up in smoke early.

“We got away with a 3.87 on that one,” Millican says. “But of course, on race day, it doesn’t matter as long as that win light comes on.”

The day took a strange turn when cloudy skies gave way to rain just after the Parts Plus car performed its burnout prior to a round 2 matchup with Shawn Langdon. Knowing showers were headed their way, NHRA had pushed teams to perform shorter turnarounds after first round.

With steady rain dancing with a sudden wind, the team took the car back to the trailer, where they changed the oil to keep the engine cool. After the rain quickly passed, the Parts Plus/Great Clips team returned to the staging area.

“It’s hard to say if altering our normal procedure affected the car or not. So now we’ve done two burnouts on the same clutch pack. The tree lights up and the car starts shaking pretty much from the moment I stepped on it.”

Meanwhile, Langdon managed to go straight down the track with a 3.749 at 325.85 mph to turn on the win light.

“Langdon and those guys were a little late getting up there, and it’s possible they changed the clutch. In hindsight, maybe we should have, too, but we weren’t sure if we had time to get it done.”

As always, Millican managed to find the silver lining on this cloudy SoCal season finale.

“Without a doubt, to come out here and run our career-best and then get a round win gives everybody the confidence that we can run with these guys and be successful. We’ve got some work to do on this chassis. The car’s got a lot of runs on it now. All cars get to the point where they’ll just spin the tires no matter how you run ‘em—we’re pretty sure we’re at that point with this chassis. So Brad Hadman, our chassis builder, will come to the shop and he’ll front-half this car. And we have another car on the way. So we’re already preparing for next season and really we have been for the last two races. The performance is there, for sure. It’s going to be a great year for Parts Plus and all our other great sponsors in 2016.”

NHRA Auto Club Finals in Pomona, CA – Fast Facts

Stringer Performance Fast Facts

 

One last chance for a Wally weekend in 2015 for Stringer Performance…

 

It’s been an exhilarating first season filled with some major accomplishments, including a #1 qualifier position in Charlotte, for the Stringer Performance team. However, there’s one prize crew chief David Grubnic, driver Clay Millican, and the entire crew are still hungry for – a Wally. After racing their way to the semi-finals in Vegas two weeks ago, the team is ready to lay it all out on the line at the Finals to bring their very first Wally home.

 

During the team’s first showing in Pomona to open the 2015 season, they were still in testing mode. This time around they’re coming to race. The team has had almost a full year working on their Parts Plus/ Great Clips dragster. In that time, they have collected a lot of valuable data and learned more about how the car reacts in certain situations. They’ve found consistency in the car with Grubnic dialing in runs in the low 3.70s and making it to the semi-final round at of one of the season’s last races against teams that have been in the field for years. The Parts Plus/ Great Clips dragster’s season ending performance already has Millican ready for the Winter Nationals going into this weekend’s Finals at Pomona. Millican said, “I love racing in Pomona and with the way the car has been running lately – I wish it was the Winter Nationals and not the Finals!”

 

Reflecting on their first season is an especially gratifying feeling for team owner Doug Stringer and Millican, because at this time last year the Stringer Performance team was still just a dream these two longtime friends shared. Since the day the two decided to put this team together, they have operated with the motto “we’re doing this” – which symbolizes the foundation of this not so rookie, anymore, team. They’ve got one more chance to knock off their last rookie year goal, and there’s no better place to bring the Wally home from than the NHRA Finals!

 

 

 

Grubnic’s tuning continues to improve with Vegas semi-finals show…

 

It was an incredible weekend of racing for the Stringer Performance team as Clay Millican steered the Parts Plus/ Great Clips dragster to the semi-finals in Vegas. Millican’s semi-finals appearance was a show of talent and perseverance for crew chief David Grubnic, who closes out his rookie year tuning this weekend in Pomona. Grubnic had to quickly figure out some tricky part malfunctions that caused a few bumps in the road for the team on Saturday.

 

However, when Millican stomped that peddle on Sunday all bets were off as the Parts Plus/ Great Clips dragster roared to round after round of victory. It’s a formula the team hopes to keep going this weekend in Pomona. With everyone looking to get in one last set of great runs before closing things out until 2016, this team is ready to come hard and fast towards the winner’s circle to bring home the Wally.

 

About Doug Stringer and Stringer Performance

 

Stringer Performance 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.