What a difference a run makes.
In Q1 at the NHRA Mello Yello Series New England Nationals in Epping, N.H., Friday, Clay Millican’s Top Fuel dragster would not even start.
That low was met by an extreme high in Q2 as Millican rocketed to the top of the qualifying ladder with a 3.795-second elapsed time at 326.71 mph.
“Before we went up for Q2 obviously the frustration level was pretty high,” said Millican. “I was getting text messages ‘why wouldn’t the car start?’ You know what, the best thing for me to do is just let them figure it out. The car wouldn’t start at Norwalk and we thought it was bad gas and we had the same problem here and they were thrashing. I mean like until the first Funny Cars were running, the car wasn’t even put back together. The second thing (crew chief) Mike Kloeber said once we went 3.79 was a bad word that started with a ‘D’ and he said we could have gone so much quicker because I had to be careful to make sure it went down the track because we didn’t get that first run.”
Millican addressed the source of his problems in Q1.
“It ended up being and I feel bad, Dave Leahy is a friend of mine and he makes all the safety system boxes that we use, but it is a really old box,” Millican said. “We’ve had it on the car for a couple of years and he will fix it, but apparently that was what was wrong. Safety systems are awesome, but we all have seen it over and over again to where sometimes they malfunction. You’ve seen people’s parachutes come out at the starting line, whatever. It’s not Dave’s fault. It is just the pure violence and vibration and everything that happens with these things. Ours has, Lord knows, how many runs on it, probably 300 or 400 because it is a couple of years old. We changed that box along with other things, but it ended up that’s what it was apparently.”
On Friday it was hot and humid in Epping, but the weather forecast is predicting it will cool down for Sunday something Millican would welcome.
“For me, it always means I get a faster ride and that’s what I enjoy doing this for,” Millican said. “I love going out there, going fast. It will be different. It’s hot today. This feels like Tennessee. Before we left home (his wife) Donna had me out there folding 300-something T-Shirts in the shop, no air conditioning. She had a method for what she was doing, and it was just prepping me for sitting in the car. I was sweating. You have to realize what you’re doing right now is not going to apply if it is 15 to 20 degrees cooler (Sunday).
But it is easier to tune for cooler conditions than hot as it is right now. It was obvious everybody was having trouble. There was no way a 3.79 was going to stay No. 1, I didn’t think because we were the second car down the race track in that session. It’s a good race track, but any race track is going to have trouble when it is this hot out there.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019