PHOENIX, Sunday, February 22, 2015: With his hometown area covered in ice over the weekend, Clay Millican was looking to looking to get on a hot streak behind the wheel of the Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel dragster during the NHRA Nationals in Phoenix.
While the plan in Pomona was to figure out the engine combination and timing on the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster, crew chief David Grubnic directed the team to focus on the chassis and the clutch heading into Phoenix. Although Millican struggled early in qualifying at Wild Horse Motorsports Park, the Parts Plus/Great Clips team gained valuable information about the car.
“In Pomona, we were extremely happy with how the motor was running—basically, no parts damage,” Millican said. “So our plan this weekend in Phoenix was to leave the motor on and find out what the car likes, the chassis likes, and the clutch likes.”
During Friday’s qualifying efforts, the Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel dragster was aggressive leaving the starting line, with poor results. On Saturday, the team went the other way and the car responded by being really lazy; however, the Tennessee native did manage to qualify for Sunday’s elimination rounds with a conservative [email protected] following an early shutoff in Q3. Millican’s incremental times in Q3: 60ft-0.833 sec.; 330ft-2.114; and [email protected] mph.
Qualified in the 15th spot, Millican would face No. 2 qualifier Doug Kalitta in the first round of Sunday eliminations, an interesting pairing since Grubnic is a former Kalitta Motorsports driver.
Knowing it would take their best shot to beat Kalitta, the Parts Plus/Great Clips team once again came out really aggressive on Sunday, but the car smoked the tires right off the line.
“We just don’t have it quite figured out yet,” Millican said afterward. “But we’re learning a lot with every run. I’m still very excited about everything we’re doing. The crew guys are getting better and better, and we made it through another weekend with no damage to the engine parts whatsoever.
“The way I look at it, this team took another giant step this weekend. Grubnic and [general manager] Lance Larsen will examine all the data, and we’ll come out ready to go in Gainesville. It may take four or five races to really get our feet underneath us, but that’s the beauty of the NHRA Countdown setup. I see us getting hot eventually and into the top 10, and then anything can happen in the Countdown.”
Over the weekend, the Parts Plus/Great Clips team hosted an enthusiastic group of employees and customers from Tucson-based Merle’s Automotive Supply Club in the Club Rev hospitality area.
“I always enjoy meeting Parts Plus members and their customers—it’s one of my favorite parts of the job,” Millican said. “I even had the chance to talk a little racing with Stephen Sattinger [CEO at Merle’s Automotive].”
Millican will have the opportunity to mingle with several members and customers from the Automotive Distribution Network when he spends his off-week in New Orleans during the upcoming Network National Convention, February 26–March 1.
“We’re getting the car ready to travel to the convention right now,” he said. “This is a special event that only happens every couple of years, so we’re bringing the actual race car—not the show car—to New Orleans, along with a few members of the Parts Plus/Great Clips crew. This will be my second Network Convention, and it’s going to be a blast.”