Bristol, TN (June 18, 2017) – He went to his first final round in 2004 and 13 years later, Clay Millican finally won his first NHRA race at the 2017 Thunder Valley Nationals in the University of Northwestern Ohio/Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel Dragster. It was an emotional win for the Tennessee native who has been runner-up eight times, before winning during his ninth final round appearance.
“19 years, 228 races and what better place to win than in Bristol, Tennesse. I am a Tennessee boy through and through; it’s my home,” exclaimed Millican. “I am really, really happy for David Grubnic and all the boys who work on this car. I mean that 100 percent. They bust their butts.”
Millican came into race day in the No. 4 qualifying spot with an elapsed time of 3.810 at 321.12 mph. In Round One, Millican came up against Kyle Wurtzel. Millican took off and smoked the tires, but Wurtzel broke right off the starting line. Clay took the win going 5.313/139.40. In Round Two, Millican raced Brittany Force. It was a close race with Millican having the starting line advantage, and he kept the advantage to take the win with a 4.011/294.18 to 4.060/267.85.
In the semifinals Millican came up against Steve Torrence. In an ironic twist, the dragster Millican is piloting used to belong to Torrence’s father, Billy. Once again it was a close race, with both drivers having nearly identical reaction times, but Millican defeated Torrence 3.812/319.90 to 3.949/303.57.
In the finals, Millican faced Leah Pritchett, who has won three times already this season but Millican got to the finish line first with a 3.825/316.38 to 3.881/307.09.
Winning his first race on Father’s Day made Millican’s win even more emotional. Millican and his wife Donna lost their son Dalton two years ago.
“I wondered if I would ever win one of these. I thought maybe it’s not meant to be. My Momma told me if the time was right, it would happen. There is no such thing as a coincidence,” Millican said. “There were so many signs/things today I know was Dalton. Father’s Day is a tough day for anyone who lost a child. Dalton was riding with me today. He got me four win lights. There is no such thing as a coincidence. When the time was right it was going to happen. Today the time was right.”
This is a big win for Stringer Performance which is an independent team racing out of McLeansboro, Illinois, taking on big multi-car teams in the NHRA. For team owner Doug Stringer, Bristol also seems to be a lucky place.
“The last time my wife and I were here in Bristol, Kasey Kahne won his last Great Clips Cup race and we went to victory lane. To come back here and win with Clay and fulfilling the dreams of all these kids, it’s an awesome feeling,” said Stringer.