Happy Berth Day: Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH Driver Clay Millican Clinches Countdown Berth at Brainerd

BRAINERD, MINN., August 23, 2016:  All year long, Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH driver Clay Millican has been pointing to the Stringer Performance team’s first goal of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Series: maintain a top-10 spot in the point standings to secure a spot in the Countdown to Championship.

Millican has held tight to the No. 9 Top Fuel point spot for weeks, holding off No. 10 Leah Pritchett. On Sunday, the two faced off in an important first-round elimination race with far-reaching ramifications.

Declaring the track conditions as “Seattle-type weather with Sonoma-type grip,” Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH crew chief David Grubnic left nothing to chance, choosing to open it up and pour the power through the middle of the racetrack.

“Our car has run really well early in the run this year,” Millican explains. “We’ve been easing up on it a little bit in the middle part of the track because you always risk pulling the tires loose. However, we knew that all the other Schumacher cars had run 3.60s already that weekend so Grubby [Grubnic] cut it loose. I saw Grubby making last-minutes adjustments before I got into the car and after I got in the car. Then off we went, and when we went right through the middle of the racetrack I thought, ‘Man, this thing is booking.’ I often glance up at the finish line so I could tell if it was a win light, but when I crossed I was thinking, ‘Did that say 3.8 or 3.6?’”

Specifically, it was a 3.696 at 326.32 mph, a career-quickest time for Millican. Meanwhile, Pritchett was up in smoke as soon as she hit the throttle and pedaled it at least three times but couldn’t get it to hook up.

“My mate Grubby sure cut it loose, all right. He really poured the power to it through the middle of the racetrack and it paid off. Prior to that, our best run was a 3.72 and making a 300ths jump is a big jump without a doubt.

Ultimately, the Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH dragster put out a cylinder in the next round as soon as Millican stepped on the throttle, running against the always thought Antron Brown.

As it turns out, the shutoff may have been a blessing in disguise. When the team began tearing things down afterward, the Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH crew found that one of the rear wing mounts on the car was broken.

“If we had made another 326-mph hour run, the rear wing maybe would have been broken off. If that had happened, it can’t be run again until it’s sent back to the manufacturer because without that wing the car acts like an arrow without feathers—you have no control. We have a safety system in place where the crew chief can shut the throttle off. Grubby saw the cylinder out early in the run and he’s the one who shut me off. We weren’t going to win that race with seven cylinders anyway,” Millican said.

Still, Millican put enough distance between he and Pritchett to assure a playoff berth.

“That’s huge for this team to be qualified before we hit Indy,” he said. “If you make that Countdown, you’re in position to win it all.”

 

Top 10 Top Fuel Points

(Through Brainerd)

Position  Driver   Points   PB Builder
1    Antron Brown  1414 0 DSR
2    Doug Kalitta  1257 -157 Kalitta
3    Steve Torrence  1216 -198 MLR
4    Brittany Force  1161 -253 Force
5    Tony Schumacher  1117 -297 DSR
6    J.R. Todd  998 -416 Kalitta
7    Shawn Langdon  968 -446 DSR
8    Richie Crampton  840 -574 MLR
9    Clay Millican  822 -592 Hadman
10    Leah Pritchett 637 -777 DSR

 

Next Race

Aug. 30–Sept. 4

Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals (PSM)

Indianapolis

Clay Millican / Stringer Performance Fast Facts Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, MN

 

Stringer Performance Fast Facts

 

 

2016 Season

  • 9th standings
  • 16 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 #1 qualifier
  • 1 finals appearance
  • 5 semi-finals appearances
  • 7 round two appearances
  • 16 round one appearances

 

 

NHRA Career

  • 235 career starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 #1 qualifiers
  • 3.722 best E.T.
  • 327.27 best speed

 

Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH dragster to feature special #MoreMinutes decal and Clay Millican Prize Pack Giveaway…

 

Clay Millican and Stringer Performance will mark team sponsor Great Clips’ hometown race with their biggest #MoreMinutes prize pack giveaway to date. Millican and Performance teamed up with Great Clips on their annual “More Minutes” campaign that encourages people to let Great Clips know what they would do with more time in their day. The campaign is connected to Great Clips’ online check-in app that allows customers to schedule an appointment at the salon conveniently from their phone and helps eliminate their wait time. Fans have had the chance to win Clay Millican prize packs featuring a signed Millican shirt and hero card over the past few weeks by tagging Millican and Stringer Performance on their social media post about what they would do with more minutes in their day. The final prize pack will also include the signed t-shirt and hero card with the addition of a sweatshirt and some other Great Clips Racing memorabilia.

 

Brainerd marks the birth of racing dream for two Stringer Performance crew members…

The Brainerd International Raceway holds a special place in the lives of two Stringer Performance crew members. Justin Groat is a native of Brainerd and it was at this track almost 20-years ago that the racing dream was sparked in the young mechanic. Groat spent years attending school for welding and mechanics to fully understand how a car works from the chassis to every part of the engine. Then went on to obtain his CDL, allowing him to better market himself to teams on the circuit.

This year’s Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd is also the first race of his professional career for new Stringer Performance crew member, Chris Estep. Estep has spent several years around drag racing, but with his addition to the Stringer Performance crew he’s setting out to make the dream of every drag racer, winning a Wally, a reality!

 

Quote from Clay Millican on racing in Brainerd…

“Brainerd is another track that I have had some success. I have been the number one qualifier and have also been in a final round at the track. I also know it will be a fun weekend because we are so close to our sponsor Great Clips’ home office. We’re going to have a full house with everyone coming out to enjoy the races and we love to have a full house in our hospitality! It’s going to be a Great weekend!”

 

About Stringer Performance

Established in 2015, Stringer Performance is entering its second year of competition in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with veteran Top Fuel driver Clay Millican. Owned by Doug Stringer who has a lengthy resume in the racing industry in both NHRA and NASCAR, the team is based in McLeansboro, IL where Stringer resides. The team is led by crew chief David Grubnic, a former NHRA Top Fuel driver turned tuner, and general manager Lance Larsen. Stringer Performance proudly boasts a solid lineup of marketing partners including marquee partners: Parts Plus, Great Clips, UNOH and Weld Racing.

 

Speedy in Seattle: No. 5 Qualifier Clay Millican Tops Terry McMillen for Round One Win at Northwest Nationals

SEATTLE, Aug. 8, 2016: Locked in a tight top-10 points battle to clinch a berth in the Countdown to the Championship, the Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH team headed to Seattle determined to close out the Western Swing with some win lights.

After losing traction in Q1, Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH driver Clay Millican responded in Q2 with a 3.733 at 319.29 mph.

As the team is prone to do when the Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH dragster is safely qualified, crew chief David Grubnic elected to swing for the fences in Q3. This time, they knocked it out of the park with a speedy 3.727 at 326.79 mph. Millican wouldn’t improve in Q4, shutting it off early after dropping a cylinder or two.

“That was nearly a career-best time for me in Q3, so I felt really good about where we were heading into Sunday,” said Millican, who qualified 5th for the second time this year.

Not even rainy conditions could dampen the team’s enthusiasm on Sunday. Lined up against Terry McMillen in round one, the Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH dragster got lose on the top end, but Millican managed to hang on for the win.

Faced with a tough challenge in round two in the form of former series champion and current points leader Antron Brown, the Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH dragster would have to run flawlessly to get the win. It turned out to be Brown’s day, running his career quickest pass and setting a track E.T. record with a 3.685 at 328.14 mph to surpass the Parts Plus/Great Clips/UNOH dragster’s 3.790 at 275.84 mph.

“Well, there’s not a lot a you can say other than we flat-out got beat,” Millican said. “I’m proud of the team for putting us in a position to do some good things this weekend.”

Most importantly, Millican maintained his spot in the top 10, holding at No. 9.

 

Position  Driver   Points   PB Builder
1    Antron Brown  1301 0 DSR
2    Doug Kalitta  1201 -100 Kalitta
3    Steve Torrence  1177 -124 MLR
4    Brittany Force  1044 -257 Force
5    Tony Schumacher  1036 -265 DSR
6    J.R. Todd  960 -341 Kalitta
7    Shawn Langdon  888 -413 DSR
8    Richie Crampton  806 -495 MLR
9    Clay Millican  770 -531 Hadman
10    Leah Pritchett  604 -697 DSR
11    Terry Mc Millen 585 -716 DSR
12    Scott Palmer 384 -917 McKinney
13    Troy Buff 278 -1023 Bill Miller
14    Terry Haddock 259 -1042 Dragster
15    Chris Karamesines 237 -1064 DSR

Next Race

Aug. 17-20

NHRA Nationals

Brainerd, Minn.