Following a three year hiatus — NHRA championship drag racing rebounds @ “Chicagoland”……

Top Fuel veteran Clay Millican powered to his first win in five years, claiming the victory over Josh Hart in the final round of the Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway.

Chicagoland-based driver Tim Wilkerson won in Funny Car and Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged Pro class victorious.

The race was the sixth of 21 races scheduled for the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and also the first race at Chicago’s Route 66 Raceway since 2019.

Millican delivered a run of 3.801-seconds at 328.94 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Parts Plus/Rick Ware Racing dragster to slip past Hart’s 3.808 at 324.28, handing the driver his first victory since 2018, which also took place in Chicago, and Rick Ware Racing its first NHRA win. It’s the fourth career win for Millican, who entered the weekend without a round win in 2023 but knocked off Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta and defending world champ Brittany Force to reach the final round.

Chicago and Route 66 Raceway continued to be a special place for Millican as he enjoyed every moment of his memorable victory on Sunday.

“I still love my job. I’ve been doing it a long time and I’m not done yet,” said Millican, who was 12th in points entering the weekend. “This is huge for this team. We’ve been struggling and it’s been tough. We got all new parts and pieces from Rick Ware, and they believed in us. For a little while, it looked like we were better with the old stuff, but I think we’ve got it figured it out and hopefully we can go out and get some more of these this year.

“My very first (NHRA Top Fuel) race was at this racetrack and 20 years later I won this race. Now 25 years later, we did it again. This group of people never quit and never stop, and they turned this car around flawlessly today.”

Clay Millican defeated Josh Hart in the Top Fuel final round at Joliet.

Hart reached the final round for the first time this season and fifth time overall with wins against Antron Brown, Jacob McNeal and T.J. Zizzo. Steve Torrence stayed in the points lead in the class.

In Funny Car, Wilkerson picked up his first victory in 33 races, with his run of 3.966 at 325.14 in his 11,000-horsepower SCAG Power Equipment/ Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang enough to get past defending world champion Ron Capps in the final round. It’s the 23rd career win for the fan-favorite veteran and first since the fall Charlotte race in 2021. The thrilling win also gave JCM Racing its first Funny Car win after Wilkerson joined the organization in the off-season.

He reached the final round by racing past Blake Alexander, Alex Laughlin and John Force, making his best run of eliminations in the final round against Capps. The victory also bumped him to fifth in points, with Matt Hagan maintaining the points lead despite a first-round loss.

After a 33 race void – Chicago area resident Tim Wilkerson scored in fuel FC racing.

“I was just thinking I didn’t need to screw this up again,” Wilkerson said. “We made some nice runs all weekend long and my team did a great job, so I can’t really complain about a thing. We’re very excited about this team.

“To be this close to home; I have so many people out there, so this is very exciting. I didn’t have the best car – Capps had a better car than I did all day long – but it worked out better for us in the finals. I did a lot better job tuning than I did driving, but I was consistent, and that’s what we needed to be able to win this race because the track was tricky.”

Capps, who won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday, defeated Terry Haddock, Bob Tasca III and Chad Green to reach the final round before his chutes deployed at about half-track against Wilkerson. It’s the third final round appearance for Capps in 2023 and the 143rd in his career. He also moved to second in points.

With his car continuing to perform at a high level, Glenn again made the most of it during Pro Stock eliminations, as the points leader got past Deric Kramer in the final round with a pass of 6.562 at 209.95 in his RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet Camaro. That gives Glenn three wins this season for his KB Titan Racing team and the seventh in his career. After setting a track record to qualify No. 1, Glenn got past Chris McGaha, teammate Greg Anderson and Jerry Tucker on Sunday to reach the final round.

Racing for Canadian based sponsor RAD Torque SystemsDallas Glenn scored another major event title in Pro Stock!

He put together another consistent performance in the final round against Kramer, cruising to another victory and strengthening an already commanding points lead in the loaded Pro Stock category.

“You get a car this good, you just want to capitalize on it,” Glenn said. “I definitely feel like I’ve got a really good car. I didn’t feel like I drove my best today, but luckily it was good enough. It feels good now, but it can change in a heartbeat in this class. We’re just going to try to keep improving because I know all these other teams are trying really hard. We definitely need to step up and keep the hammer down, but I’m definitely enjoying this moment.”

Kramer advanced to his second straight final round this year on the strength of round wins against Mason McGaha, Cristian Cuadra and Aaron Stanfield.

Herrera stayed perfect on the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, going 6.717 at 201.25 in the final round on his Vance & Hines / Mission Foods Suzuki to beat Chip Ellis and claim his third straight win. As impressive as his first two winning weekends have been, Herrera was on another level in Chicago, putting together a dominant weekend that included shattering the track record by a huge margin with a run of 6.672, qualifying No. 1 and winning the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge.

Gaige Herrera continued his amazing season campaign in Pro Stock motorcycle — scoring two event wins at Route 66 Raceway.

On Sunday, he finished things off with four strong performances, riding past Ron Tornow, Marc Ingwersen and teammate Eddie Krawiec to reach the final round. He raced past Ellis in the finals, building on his points lead and claiming the victory at his home track, where Herrera was making his first career appearance.

“It gives me a whole lot of confidence having a bike like this,” said Herrera, who made the second, third and fourth-quickest runs in class history this weekend. “This whole Vance & Hines team has this bike on rails and it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders. To get a third straight win and do it in front of these friends, it means a lot. I’m so excited about this.

“You couldn’t draw it up any better than this. We’ve got a lot of friends and family here, and it’s a special one. It’s just a dream right now for us.”

Ellis advanced to his 15th career final round thanks to wins against Chris Bostick, rookie Chase Van Sant and Hector Arana Jr.

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action June 2-4 with the 10th annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

Saturday Speciality Race Results

Camrie Caruso drove to the win at the first NHRA Pro Stock All-Star Callout, claiming the victory over Aaron Stanfield on Saturday as part of the Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway.

In the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, Justin Ashley (Top Fuel) Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won the bonus event in Chicago.

Caruso, who was seeded eighth in the eight-car field specialty race, went 6.524-seconds at 211.03 mph in her Tequila Comisario Chevrolet Camaro in the final round to slip past Stanfield’s 6.525.

The 2022 NHRA Rookie of the Year claimed her first career Pro Stock win earlier this year, following with an impressive performance in her first appearance at Route 66 Raceway, which is hosting its first NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series race since 2019.

In Top Fuel, Ashley became the first two-time winner in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, going 3.728 at 331.12 in his 11,000-horsepower Phillips Connect Toyota dragster to knock off Austin Prock’s 3.742.

Justin Ashley became the first 2X winner for NHRA Top Fuel racing’s Mission #2Fast2Tasty specialty event.

Ashley won the bonus event in Pomona and followed it up with another fantastic performance in Chicago, getting past Antron Brown in the opening round on a holeshot on Saturday and following with a victory against Prock thanks in part to an outstanding .046 reaction time.

Capps picked up his first win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, going 3.941 at 328.30 in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra. The reigning world champion was set to face Terry Haddock in the finals of the specialty race, but Haddock’s car broke on the starting line, helping hand the victory to Capps.

Ron Capps eared his first Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge title.

Herrera continued to be nearly unstoppable in Pro Stock Motorcycle, crushing the Route 66 Raceway record books and earning the first Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge victory in the category as well. He easily held onto the No. 1 qualifier with another massive run in the final round of the challenge, dispatching Chase Van Sant with a run of 6.672 at 200.32 on his Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki.

World Champs Final Round Face-off

In a final round featuring the last two world champions in the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports, Jose Gonzalez picked up the win over reigning world champ Kris Thorne on a holeshot as part of this weekend’s Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway.

The event, which was powered by PGT Trucking, was the third of 10 races during the 2023 season in the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports.

2021 NHRA World Champion Jose Gonzalez won the FuelTech Pro Mod Series title at Chicago.

Gonzalez, who won his first NHRA Pro Mod world title in 2021, picked up his first victory this season and the eighth in his career, going 5.769-seconds at 249.76 mph in his Q80 Racing Chevrolet Camaro. The key was the .024 reaction time Gonzalez posted in the final round, which proved to be enough to hold off Thorne’s 5.767 at 250.46.

Gonzalez knocked off Doug Winters, Billy Banaka and Sidnei Frigo to reach the final round, delivering an impressive performance to pick up his first career win at Route 66 Raceway.

Thorne, who won four races in 2022, reached his first final this year, knocking off Kevin Rivenbark, points leader Justin Bond, who had won the first two races of the 2023 campaign, and Manny Buginga.

The FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports returns to action June 2-4 with the 10th annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H. It will mark the first appearance at the track for the NHRA Pro Mod category.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

(Sportsman Racing Final Round Results)

An all Camaro pairing final round in Comp saw Ryan Priddy (far lane) defeat Dave Billingsley.

Competition Eliminator — Ryan Priddy, Chevy Camaro, 6.511, 200.89 def. David Billingsley, Camaro, 8.074, 165.40.

Super Stock — Irvin Johns, Chevy Cavalier, 9.428, 139.07 def. Brad Zaskowski, Chevy Camaro, Foul – Red Light.

Driving Chevrolets — Chris Vang and Irving Johns (top) won in Stock and Super Stock classes respectively.

Stock Eliminator — Chris Vang, Chevy Camaro, 8.568, 157.32 def. Andrew Hill, Camaro, 10.576, 125.40.

Super Comp — Devin Isenhower, Dragster, 8.901, 182.62 def. Rock Haas, Dragster, 8.920, 168.98.

Super Gas — Steve Hoyt, Chevy Cavalier, 9.909, 178.52 def. Mitch Withers, Chevy Corvette, Foul – Red Light.

Driving his Chevy Cavalier – Steve Hoyt won in Super Gas (9.90)

Super Street — Steve Domingues, Chevy Camaro, 10.873, 147.26 def. Phil Smida, Chevy Cavalier, 10.858, 143.32.

Steve Domingues (near lane) won the Super Street title over Phil Smida.

Top Dragster — Wayne Sleger, Dragster, 6.182, 229.08 def. Zach Sackman, Dragster, Foul – Red Light.

T/D class racing went to Wayne Sleger.

Factory Stock Showdown — Lenny Lottig, Chevy Camaro, 7.681, 179.21 def. Doug Hamp, Camaro, 7.746, 178.24.

The Factory Stock Showdown final round went to Lenny Lottig (near lane) over Doug Hamp.

Racing at Route 66 also did include a Mountain Motor Pro Stock program. The 8-car field winner was Richard Freeman’s Camaro in the final round over John Montecalvo’s Mustang.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications & Bruce Biegler

Photos by David Ostazewski

Link to the LMLC Media event photo gallery from Chicago: HERE