Millican Scores First Top Fuel Victory At Thunder Valley

Clay Millican recorded his first career Top Fuel victory on Sunday in the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. Photo: NHRA Media

Clay Millican piloted his dragster to his first career Top Fuel victory Sunday at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock) were also winners in their respective categories.

Millican, a Tennessee native, raced a 3.825-second pass at 316.38 mph to defeat Leah Pritchett, who raced a 3.881 at 307.09. He became the 103rd different driver to win in Top Fuel. This was Millican’s 254th NHRA Top Fuel start and the ninth final round of his career.

“I love what I do,” Millican said. “There were times I ever wondered if this was going to happen. I don’t deserve this credit. I’m really happy for David Grubnic and all of the boys who work on this car and I mean that one-hundred percent.”

Millican battled past Kyle Wurtzel, Brittany Force and Steve Torrence en route to the finals. Pritchett squared up against Troy Coughlin, Jr., Scott Palmer and Shawn Langdon before falling to Millican in the final round. Millican is seventh in points while Pritchett moved from third to second with the runner-up finish. Torrence now has possession of the Top Fuel points lead.

Defending Funny Car world champion Capps raced to his fifth victory this season and 55th of his career. He won on a holeshot against Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman with a pass of 4.054 at 317.05.

“We’ve gotten a few lucky rounds, but it’s been preparation in the off season,” Capps stated. “We had runs on Sunday against four of the toughest cars, drivers and crew chiefs combined. You read down the list of people we had to beat in a new car that was prepared. There are not very many teams that are that prepared to pull a car out and have a quicker set-up than we were.”

Capps ties John Force with most Funny Car victories at Bristol Dragway with four apiece on their resume.

Before entering the final round, Capps defeated Alexis DeJoria, Robert Hight and teammate Matt Hagan. Beckman sailed past Cruz Pedregon, Courtney Force and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. before seeing Capps for the second consecutive final round. Beckman defeated Capps in the finals at the event in Englishtown.

In Pro Stock, Laughlin clinched his first Wally of the season and second of his career with a perfect reaction time in the finals. He powered to a 6.718 at 205.04 to defeat Bo Butner. Laughlin is the eighth different Pro Stock winner this season.

“We didn’t really have anything handed to us; we had some good matchups all day,” Laughlin stated. “I definitely feel like I had a point to prove. We have a competitive car on the starting line. I came into this weekend with the confidence to win.”

Laughlin raced past Alan Johnson, No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin and rookie Tanner Gray before facing Butner in the final round. Butner lined up against Wally Stroupe and two-time world champion Erica Enders en route to his fourth final round appearance this season.

The 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at the 11th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals June 22-25 at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Bristol Dragway – Bristol, TN
NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals – June 18, 2017

Sunday’s Final Results

Top Fuel — Clay Millican, 3.825 seconds, 316.38 mph def. Leah Pritchett, 3.881 seconds, 307.09 mph.

Funny Car — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.054, 317.05 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.040, 319.29.

Pro Stock — Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.718, 205.04 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.729, 205.79.

Point Standings (Top 10)

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence, 954; 2. Leah Pritchett, 943; 3. Antron Brown, 934; 4. Tony Schumacher, 801; 5. Doug Kalitta, 678; 6. Brittany Force, 649; 7. Clay Millican, 639; 8. Troy Coughlin Jr., 443; 9. Scott Palmer, 432; 10. Terry McMillen, 424.

Funny Car
1. Ron Capps, 1,044; 2. Matt Hagan, 881; 3. Jack Beckman, 748; 4. Robert Hight, 707; 5.Courtney Force, 704; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 663; 7. John Force, 641; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 490; 9.J.R. Todd, 476; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 397.

Pro Stock
1. Bo Butner, 945; 2. Greg Anderson, 835; 3. Tanner Gray, 830; 4. Jeg Coughlin, 766; 5. Jason Line, 702; 6. Erica Enders, 657; 7. Vincent Nobile, 617; 8. Drew Skillman, 536; 9. Shane Gray, 434; 10. Chris McGaha, 421.


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