Under the bright lights at the Sonoma (Calif.) Nationals Friday night, veteran Top Fuel driver Clay Millican took center stage.
Millican clocked 3.698-second elapsed time at 330.96 mph to take the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot in his Parts Plus dragster.
“That was awesome,” Millican said. “The place was packed and let’s just face it, we race car drivers love showing off and the team gave me a race car that was capable of really, really showing off. The music you guys were playing, we had pyro (Friday night), it was just awesome. It got cold. To be honest we were toward the front of the line and I was so excited to go 3.69, that was (crew chief) Mike Kloeber and our team’s best run ever. This was Mike’s first 60 of any kind ever and that really makes me happy because I love breaking those barriers. He had been 70 a few times, but to go 3.69 it was exciting for me for him. I love coming here, it is such a cool place.”
If his ET holds, this would be Millican’s third No. 1 qualifier this season – he was at the top of the qualifying ladder in Richmond, Va., and Epping, N.H. It also would be the 23rd of his career. Millican was the No. 1 qualifier at Sonoma last year.
“This is a brand-new team that has just been unbelievable how well they have done,” Millican said. “I keep saying this, but the world had kind of written us off. The entire team left, and we got all brand-new people, but we have really good people. They may be brand-new as a group together, but they certainly know what they are doing. For Mike to get his first 60 is just awesome and he and Jim O (Oberhofer) have just been incredible. They really are working good together, bouncing ideas off each other and it is going to be better yet. I’m having fun.”
Millican did take a moment to talk about Saturday’s conditions.
“I hope it is hot tomorrow, so that we stay No. 1, but given the conditions I’m surprised that stayed No. 1 because the conditions were there (Friday night) to go quicker,” Millican said. “But, again, Mike and Jim O together with the parts and pieces we have, we are not trying to go out there and set the world record. We’re trying to improve on what we have done and that was a big step. It was good and there was more out there (Friday night), I really believe that. I didn’t get a chance to look at the data, but there’s always more.”
Millican is still searching for his first win this season. He has three runner-up finishes in Gainesville, Fla., Charlotte, N.C. and Denver, the last stop on the tour last weekend.
“I was in the final last week and as we speak right this moment I would happy to be in the final again with another runner-up,” Millican said. “Ask me that Sunday afternoon when I’m getting ready for the final and I will say a different answer. You always want to win, but right now it was good, good night for us to get that No. 1 spot and it is hot (Saturday), we will stay No. 1 and we just got look at Sunday. We have to keep going rounds. The points are really tight, but forget Steve (Torrence), he’s on another planet, but from second to seventh it is really, really close and there’s a heck of a battle that’s going to go on for that last (10th) spot in the Countdown and I’m glad I’m not part of it.”
Millican arrived in Sonoma fifth in the points standings, 18 points behind fourth place Doug Kalitta.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019