Clay Millican and Stringer Performance Team In Championship Form As Thy Score First Win Of The Season In Topeka

Clay Millican and the Stringer Performance appear to be in championship form this season with this weekend’s Heartland Nationals in Topeka, KS proving just that. Millican and team scored their second career national event win after a rain soaked event in which they seemed destined to bring home a Wally.

It was no secret that Millican and team were a threat throughout the course of the weekend. It was also no secret that they had a weapon in the form of crew chief, David Grubnic who has experienced much success at the Topeka track as a driver, capturing two wins of his own there. Grubnic’s previous experience coupled with a car that has proved lightning fast all year, got the perfect weekend started off on the right foot during Friday’s qualifying session. For the second straight week, and fourth time this season, Millican set fast time and earned No. 1 qualifier spot giving them an added advantage going into Sunday’s eliminations.

Sunday brought rainy weather to Topeka but it did nothing to slow down the Strutmasters/ Parts Plus/ Great Clips dragster. After taking on Terry Totten in the first round, Millican faced Doug Kalita in the second round and stunned the crowd by running a 3.72 at 334.90, the third fastest pass in class history, shattering the track speed record for a second straight week. The day was cut short due to rain and so Millican and team were forced to wait another day to chase victory.

The wait was worth it as Monday morning brought sunny skies and a semi-finals win over eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher prior to entering the final round against longtime friend, Terry McMillen. Millican clocked a time of 3.727 seconds at 332.59 miles per hour for the win – and the Wally.

“This was a long weekend, but what a weekend for the Strutmasters.com / Parts Plus / Great Clips team,” Millican said. “It was incredible. It was just crazy how good the car ran and, to be honest with you, it pretty much didn’t matter what I did because that car was going to win today. A long time ago, when I first started Top Fuel, (NHRA legend) Shirley Muldowney told me, ‘When it’s your day, it’s easy,’ and right this moment it was kind of easy.”

Strutmasters.com Increases Its Sponsorship Of The Stringer Performance NHRA Top Fuel Dragster In Upcoming Events

MCLEANSBORO, Ill. (May 15, 2018) – NHRA Top Fuel team Stringer Performance is pleased to announce that Strutmasters.com will have more prominent placement on its Top Fuel dragster driven by Clay Millican for the Heartland Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, KS, May 18-20 and the Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, June 15-17.

Strutmasters.com, which first partnered with Stringer Performance in 2017, will have co-primary positioning on the dragster of Millican for both events along with Parts Plus and Great Clips. Millican is the defending winner of the Thunder Valley Nationals, claiming his first ever NHRA win last season at Bristol in an emotional victory on Father’s Day.

Strutmasters.com is a suspension manufacturer founded in 1999 by Chip Lofton. Specializing in air-to-non-air suspension conversion kits, Strutmasters.com has become an industry leader in the world of suspension. Strutmasters offers affordable total solutions to fixing costly complex air, magnetic, electronic, and hydraulic suspension systems. What began as a personal project to repair a family’s only vehicle, Strutmasters.com has grown into a nationwide provider of suspension solutions and has truly earned the title “The Suspension Experts”.

“We had the Thunder Valley Nationals on our radar as one of the events we wanted to sponsor but with the way Clay and the Stringer Performance team have been running this season we wanted to jump in as quick as possible and added the Topeka event as well,” said Strutmasters.com owner, Chip Lofton. “Doug Stringer and his team have put forth impressive results so far this season, with Clay most recently breaking the track record at Atlanta on top of three No. 1 qualifiers so far this season. We are extremely proud to be a part of this team.”

Stringer Performance owner Doug Stringer is proud to see Strutmasters.com step into a bigger role with the team.

Strutmasters.com has been a great partner of our team over the course of the last two seasons,” said Stringer. “I’m excited for them to step into a major partner role for the Heartland Nationals and the Thunder Valley Nationals and to have the opportunity to capitalize on the marketing value associated with primary sponsorship. Bristol especially is a special race for us having won our very first Wally here last year so we have every intention of repeating and taking Strutmasters.com to the Winners Circle.”

 

About Stringer Performance

Established in 2015, Stringer Performance is entering its fourth 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. Stringer Performance proudly boasts a solid lineup of marketing partners including Parts Plus, Great Clips, and Strutmasters.com.

Record Breaking Weekend for Clay Millican and Stringer Performance in Atlanta

ATLANTA, May 7, 2018: It was almost like Babe Ruth calling his shot when the legendary Yankee knocked the ball out of the park at Chicago’s Wrigley Field in the 5th inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. Last week, Parts Plus/Great Clips/ Strutmasters driver Clay Millican confidently pointed to Atlanta as a turning point for the team’s ongoing success in the 2018 campaign.

Specifically, Millican said he felt Stringer Performance crew chief David Grubnic and his team were driving toward achieving more consistency to ensure the Parts Plus/Great Clips/ Strutmasters “rocket” flies straight down the track and turns on win lights. And that’s no small feat when you’re attempting to harness the power of the quickest dragster in the universe.

“I love this time of year when we start racing week to week. This gives the team an opportunity to get into a rhythm that will keep us on pace to continue this fantastic season. It all starts Friday in qualifying—we’ve got to come out strong, get the straight down the track like we did all last season, and put ourselves into the top five of the field on Sunday. I fully expect us to knock it out the park Friday.”

Indeed, after an aggressive swing and a miss in Q1, Millican suddenly regained his all-star slugger form on Friday. Taking advantage of the cooling temps under the stars at Atlanta Dragway to close out that evening’s qualifying session, the Parts Plus/Great Clips/ Strutmasters dragster launched hard off the line and clocked a record-breaking time at Atlanta: 3.758 at 331.12 mph. Despite a challenge from Brittany Force, Millican held onto the top spot as qualifying wrapped up Sunday. “To go 331 mph in Atlanta is pretty cool,” Millican says. “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.”

That makes three No. 1 qualifiers for the popular driver in seven races thus far in the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Series and the 13th of Millican’s Top Fuel career. Relive Millican rocketing to the No. 1 spot and the new speed record at Atlanta Dragway over the weekend in the clip below.

“We held in there and got the green hat,” Millican told reporters after securing the No. 1 spot Saturday afternoon. “We are now definitely looking for the yellow hat. We went out and made a nice solid run and Brittany [Force] was knocking on the door of taking the No. 1 spot away.”

Force knocked hard on Saturday, but the door didn’t open. Nonetheless, the Monster Energy dragster’s [email protected] mph managed to secure the No. 2 spot for Force. Points leader Steve Torrence closed out Saturday’s qualifying session as the No 3 qualifier

Millican’s Q3 run was merely the icing on the cake. While the car didn’t match Friday’s home-run shot, Grubby and the team put their driver in position to do just that. This time, Millican guided the powerful Parts Plus/Great Clips/ Strutmasters dragster straight down the groove en route to a [email protected] mph—the second best pass of the session.

Most important, that made it two strong back-to- back runs for the team, the kind of consistency Grubby was aiming for heading into Sunday’s eliminations. Even more promising: No. 1 qualifier Millican would be lining up the next morning against No. 16 Audrey Worm, who couldn’t even run on Saturday after hurting crucial parts on her car while qualifying Friday. History indicated an easy win for Millican, as the No. 16 qualifier had not won an opening round on Sunday since the turn of the century.

Millican improved upon his team’s recent history, as he made it three successful passes in a row, with the Parts Plus car again riding that groove all the way to the finish line—and a win light—with a relatively tame [email protected] mph. “Obviously, we felt like we were in great shape to win this one as long as we got the car down the track, which we did, so I’m happy.” Worm’s woes continued, with her car dropping cylinders almost immediately after the start, effectively ending only her fifth start.

If the team was dealt the equivalent of a home-run pitch Friday night, then Sunday’s second round was a curveball for the crew. Millican appeared to catch a break lining up against Mike Salinas, who owns a scrap-metal and garbage-hauling company in San Jose, and is racing his first full-time schedule in the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Series.

The Parts Plus/Great Clips/ Strutmasters dragster trailed momentarily off the line before seizing the lead, seemingly en route to another win light—then Grubby’s rocket lost traction, and Millican figuratively appeared headed back down to Earth. But then the Scrappers dragster started to mix up cylinders on the top end, enabling Millican to regain the lead. But Salinas and his car lived up to their scrappy reputation and chased down the Parts Plus dragster for the junky-looking upset with a 4.128 pass—the first semifinal appearance of his career. Dr

“Well, that was about as ugly as it gets, but it sure would have looked a heck of a lot prettier had we stolen that one,” says Millican, who collected enough bonus points to remain in the 4th spot in the point standings. “I’d say it was overall a positive weekend—not only because we were the No. 1 qualifier for the third time in seven races but also those three consecutive runs straight down the track in which we pretty much did what we were aiming to do. We’ve still got some things to figure out, but having the quickest car and the best crew chief and team behind gives me heck of a lot of confidence moving forward.”

2018 Mello Yello Series Top Fuel Point Standings (Through 6 of 24 Events)

 

POSITION DRIVER POINTS POINTS BEHIND LEADER VEHICLE
01 Steve Torrence 581 0 Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports
02 Tony Schumacher 461 -120 U.S. Army Dragster
03 Doug Kalitta 458 -123 Mac Tools Dragster
04 Clay Millican 448 -133 Parts Plus/ Great Clips/ UNOH dragster
05 Leah Pritchett 435 -146 Papa John’s Dragster
06 Antron Brown 390 -191 Matco Tools Dragster
07 Brittany Force 375 -206 Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
08 Terry McMillen 336 -245 Amalie Motor Oil Dragster
09 Richie Crampton 280 -301 Kalitta Air/DHL dragster
10 Mike Salinas 275 -306 Scrappers Racing


NEXT EVENT

May 18—20 Heartland National, Topeka, May 18—20

Topeka, Kan.

Fantastic Four! Parts Plus/Great Clips Dragster Reaches Finals of Charlotte’s Four-Wide Nationals

CONCORD, N.C., April 30, 2018: You could say the four-wide spectacle in the NHRA Mello Yello Series is starting to grow on Parts Plus/Great Clips/ Strutmasters driver Clay Millican. On Sunday, Millican nearly became only the fourth driver—and the first Top Fuel racer—in the eight-year history of the annual zMAX Four-Wide Nationals to reach the finals and win the event despite finishing second in the first two rounds.

“I’m not the biggest fan of the format, but if we keep running like this every year, I may fall in love with it yet,” says Millican, who was the No. 1 qualifier a year ago with a [email protected] run and reached the finals in 2016. “It was cooler than expected today early today, but that was good for us. We showed once again we can run this car in any kind of conditions and not lose a step.”

Qualifying wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, though, as the team’s recent struggles in Friday’s homerun session continued at Charlotte. But Millican bounced back in a big way in Q4, running the second-quickest pass of the session on a hot track with a [email protected], earning bonus points in the process. Millican, who would start Sunday in the No. 7 position, was confident the Parts Plus car would run well when it counted despite the inherent chaos of the zMAX four-wide.

“The Christmas Tree is different with the staging procedure, with the four cars out there, but the format is essentially the same as usual when you get down to it,” Millican says. “It’s still one driver, your car and your team. That said, it can be more challenging for the crew chief, as teams only get one qualifying run in each lane, so there’s less information to make an effective decision as to which lane to select. I’m glad Grubby [Stringer Performance crew chief David Grubnic] has to do that and not me. For me, I just have to go out there and beat three other drivers.”

Or as Millican illustrated Sunday, beating just two other drivers in the early rounds is pretty dang good, too, with each quad’s winner and the runner-up both advancing.

With the unexpected always expected during four-wide racing, it shouldn’t have been surprising when plenty of traditional heavy hitters were eliminated early, including all three Don Schumacher cars in a span of five minutes.

The Parts Plus/Great Clips/ Strutmasters dragster was also in danger of heading toward the exits when the car started to lose traction in Sunday’s first round before Millican pedaled it and got it hooked up to finish in the runner-up spot, 0.5647 seconds (a little over 100 feet) behind Dom Lagana. Millican edged Tony Schumacher by 0.321 seconds (more than 100 feet) ahead, while Leah Pritchett’s day ended in fourth.

“The car just got in front of me a little bit, and I moved it around a whole lot, and the car ended up spinning the tires, but fortunately I was able to get it hooked back up and take second,” Millican explains. “Only at the four-wide can you ‘lose’ but still advance. It’s a wild spectacle, for sure.”

With the sun emerging, and the temps rising in the air and on the track, Millican lined up in lane one against Mike Salinas, Lagana and Doug Kalitta for E2. This time, Millican was second off the line but went straight down the groove, advancing to the finals as the runner-up, finishing 0.0813 seconds (about 38 feet) behind Kalitta. The Parts Plus/Great Clips/ Strutmasters dragster topped Lagana by 0.044 seconds (about 20 feet), with Salinas finishing last in the quad.

That put Millican in position make history as the first Top Fuel driver to take home a four-wide Wally without winning a quad in round one or two. In the event’s eight-year history, only Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), Robert Thight (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) have managed to take advantage of the unique nuances of Charlotte’s four-wide to earn that rather dubious honor. Lined up against Torrence, Kalitta and Terry McMillen in the final four, Millican ran hard off the line but spun the tires at about the midway point.

Torrence went straight down the groove and never looked back, winning the quad and the event with a [email protected] mph.

“Of course, we wanted to win, but we’re pretty happy right now. The Parts Plus/Great Clips/ Strutmasters dragster is still the quickest car out there. Our only problem right now is maintaining that consistency because our car is either a rocket ship or a dud—there’s no in-between with it.

“I think it’s just a matter of Grubby figuring out that math problem to make the Parts Plus car run more consistently; when that happens, we will be winning more trophies. But I’m going to focus on doing my job. It’s fun knowing we’re capable of beating anyone out there each and every time we line up.”

2018 Mello Yello Series Top Fuel Point Standings (Through 6 of 24 Events)

 

POSITION DRIVER POINTS POINTS BEHIND LEADER VEHICLE
01 Steve Torrence 503 0 Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports
02 Tony Schumacher 426 -77 U.S. Army Dragster
03 Doug Kalitta 401 -102 Mac Tools Dragster
04 Clay Millican 384 -119 Parts Plus/ Great Clips/ UNOH dragster
05 Antron Brown 362 -141 Matco Tools Dragster
06 Leah Pritchett 315 -188 Papa John’s Dragster
07 Brittany Force 311 -192 Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
08 Terry McMillen 305 -198 Amalie Motor Oil Dragster
09 Richie Crampton 263 -240 SealMaster dragster
10 Scott Palmer 249 -254 CatSpot/Tommy Thompson Motorsports

NEXT EVENT: NHRA Southern Nationals (PSM), May 4–6, Atlanta