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Nitro Shots: One Last Hurrah

One championship in the NHRA has already been decided but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing left to sort out in Pomona. Matter of fact, it’s the two-wheeled contingent that goes into the final race with a big battle underway. Harley Davidson teammates Andrew Hines, the defending champion, and Eddie Krawiec are tied with Jerry Savoie set to play spoiler to their part from just three points back. It really will come down to what happens on that final Sunday of the season. Don’t forget those qualifying points either, because every single one a rider can get might be needed.

nhra-2016-las-vegas-jerry-savoie-winner-courtesy-nhra
Jerry Savoie’s win in Las Vegas puts him just three points behind Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec, who are tied for first. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

Ron Capps has been at this a really long time and he’s won a lot of races. The one thing he hasn’t won is a championship. He’s currently on that “Best Driver to Never Win a Championship” list that every major motorsports series seems to have. For now. He goes into Pomona with a fairly comfortable lead of 86 points over teammate Matt Hagan, but there’s no time to relax. If you’re Capps, having a teammate, or three, behind you is not likely as comforting as you’d think considering they are in the same top-notch equipment.

After putting on a clinic for the first two thirds of the year, it was interesting to watch the competition catch up to the KB Racing team at Countdown time. Never fear, the KB guys weren’t going to let it slip away after such total domination prior to the Countdown. With a 19 point margin between them, it’s still up for grabs whether the red car of Greg Anderson or the blue car of Jason Line will prevail, but it appears they will still cap the season off with a KB championship.

All the questions will be answered in two weeks in Pomona, when NHRA wraps up the season as they always do in the same place it started nine months ago.

What’s News?

* If you noted that Top Fuel was left out of the discussion above, that’s because Antron Brown has already collected the championship for that category at last week’s Toyota NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. This is Brown’s second consecutive Top Fuel championship and third overall.

* J&A Service will once again sponsor the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series in 2017. It was also announced that the schedule for the class would grow from 10 races to 12. One of the new events will be at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in April. Like the other professional classes, the Pro Mods will be racing four-wide. The other event will be announced at a later date.

Driver Profile: Clay Millican

NHRA 2015 Charlotte Clay Millican intros smiling credit Toni Montgomery
Photo: Toni Montgomery

Category: Top Fuel
Hometown: Drummonds, TN
Date of birth: February 9, 1966
2015 car: Parts Plus/Great Clips Dragster
Crew chief: David Grubnic
Team Owner: Doug Stringer

Career Highlights:
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 0/8
Best points finish: 6th in 2013
Career best ET: 3.689, Las Vegas 2, 2016
Career best speed: 328.38, Las Vegas 2, 2016

2015 – Posted five semi-final finishes.

2014 – Raced to two semifinal finishes.

2013 – Four runner-up finishes; first career No. 1 qualifier at Englishtown; earned a spot in the Countdown to the Championship.

2012 – Four semifinal finishes.

2009 – First Countdown appearance.

2004 – Advanced to three consecutive final round appearances.

1998 – Earned NHRA Top Fuel license and made NHRA debut at inaugural event at Chicago.

Some things most people don’t know about Clay: Crew chief David Grubnic is a former driver, something that Millican finds a great asset as far as communication and understanding goes. Millican has noted that often a driver feels some pressure to be perfect and not screw it up when the crew chief puts the perfect tune-up in the car, and if something does go wrong, it can be difficult to explain. Millican has found this much easier with Grubnic, who has assured him he’s already pretty much done all of those things behind the wheel himself.

Millican has not won an NHRA Top Fuel race, but he’s no stranger to winning, with six consecutive IHRA Top Fuel world championships (2001-2006) to his credit. He is the winningest Top Fuel driver in IHRA history with 51 wins, and in 2003 advanced to every final round during the season. In 2002 he set his career best with 11 wins on the season, an IHRA record. He is also the IHRA world record holder for elapsed time and speed with 4.48 at 328 mph.

Hey Y’All Watch This:

This week’s driver profile subject Clay Millican answers the question of what he would change about NHRA drag racing if he could change just one thing. Kalitta Motorsports teammates Doug Kalitta and Del Worsham also weigh in with what they would change.

Because it bears repeating, or rewatching, here is Cruz Pedregon’s amazing wheelstanding run from last Sunday. Pedregon never lifted and crossed the finish line beams on his rear tires. While he did win the race, he was done for the day because the impact upon landing bent the frame rails of his car.

NHRA on TV:

ProgramDate/TimeChannel
SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA NATIONALS
QualifyingFriday, June 23, 10:30 PM ETFS1
QualifyingSunday, June 25, 12:00 AM ETFS1
EliminationsSunday, June 25, 6:00 PM ETFS1

About Toni Montgomery

Toni Montgomery
A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni freelances with both writing and web design in North Carolina.

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