After dominating IHRA Top Fuel racing for many seasons — Clay Millican has finally broken through in NHRA….

Clay Millican piloted his Parts Plus / Great Clips dragster to his first career (NHRA) Top Fuel victory during the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Clay Millican won for the first time in NHRA Top Fuel racing last weekend in Tennessee

Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock) were also winners in their respective categories at the 11th event of 24 on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Millican, a Tennessee native, raced a 3.825-second pass at 316.38 mph to defeat Leah Pritchett, who raced a 3.881 at 307.09 in her Papa John’s dragster. He became the 103rd different driver to win in Top Fuel. This was Millican’s 254th NHRA Top Fuel start and the ninth final round of his career.

“I love what I do,” Millican said. “There were times I ever wondered if this was going to happen. I don’t deserve this credit. I’m really happy for David Grubnic and all of the boys who work on this car and I mean that one-hundred percent.”

Millican battled past Kyle Wurtzel, Brittany Force and Steve Torrence en route to the finals. Pritchett squared up against Troy Coughlin Jr., Scott Palmer and Shawn Langdon before falling to Millican in the final round. Millican is seventh in points while Pritchett moved from third to second with the runner-up finish. Torrence now has possession of the Top Fuel points lead.

For Millican the victory was for sure long overdue for the accomplished racer who had during his IHRA Top Fuel racing career claimed 52 events wins and was a 6X IHRA world champion.

Millican’s first NHRA win came in his home state of Tennessee

Defending Funny Car world champion Capps raced to his fifth victory this season and 55th of his career in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T. He won on a holeshot against Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T with a pass of 4.054 at 317.05.

“We’ve gotten a few lucky rounds, but it’s been preparation in the off season,” Capps stated. “We had runs on Sunday against four of the toughest cars, drivers and crew chiefs combined. You read down the list of people we had to beat in a new car that was prepared. There are not very many teams that are that prepared to pull a car out and have a quicker set-up than we were.”

Ron Capps racked up his 55th career win and his 5th of the season in Funny Car racing

Capps ties John Force with most Funny Car victories at Bristol Dragway with four apiece on their resume.

Before entering the final round, Capps defeated Alexis DeJoria, Robert Hight and teammate Matt Hagan. Beckman sailed past Cruz Pedregon, Courtney Force and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. before seeing Capps for the second consecutive final round. Beckman defeated Capps in the finals at the event in Englishtown.

In Pro Stock, Laughlin clinched his first Wally of the season and second of his career with a perfect reaction time in the finals. He powered his Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.718 at 205.04 to defeat Bo Butner in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro. Laughlin is the eighth different Pro Stock winner this season.

“We didn’t really have anything handed to us; we had some good matchups all day,” Laughlin stated. “I definitely feel like I had a point to prove. We have a competitive car on the starting line. I came into this weekend with the confidence to win.”

Texan Alex Laughlin collected in Pro Stock for the 2nd time in his career

Laughlin raced past Alan Johnson, No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin and rookie Tanner Gray before facing Butner in the final round. Butner lined up against Wally Stroupe and two-time world champion Erica Enders en route to his fourth final round appearance this season.

J&A Services Pro Mod Results

Troy Coughlin powered to the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series victory Sunday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by the Real Pro Mod Association, was the seventh of 12 events on the 2017 schedule.

Coughlin ran a 5.878-second pass at 253.09 mph in his JEGS Mail Order ’15 Corvette to defeat No. 1 qualifier Shane Molinari and his S&T Truck Repair Inc. ’68 Firebird’s 5.881 at 254.76 for his first win of the season.

Troy Coughlin won for the 10th time in NHRA J&A Services Pro Mod class racing

“What can I say about those guys Steve Petty, Kyle, Mike, the team and everybody at Mac Tools – they’re a badass group of people,” Coughlin said. “We’ve had a fantastic car for the last race or so. We struggled a little bit in the middle part of the first half of the season, but it’s definitely coming around.”

It was Coughlin’s second consecutive final round appearance and 10th career win. He is currently second in points while Mike Castellana maintains the points lead after a quarterfinal finish.

Two Wins for Tii!

North Carolina Top Fuel Harley class rivals Jay Tuner and Tii Tharpe faced off in that class final.

Tharpe upset Turner in a tight race, running 6.549 seconds, 205.01 mph as Turner came in second at 7.603 seconds, 134.20 mph.

For Tharpe it was his second career win in the class – his first coming only a couple weeks earlier at Epping NH when he won the New England Nationals.

Tii Tharpe dominated the event.  After qualifying #1 at 6.381 secs (over 15 other entries!) he was credited with low ET of the meet at 6.268 secs while winning round one over Amon Furr.  He then bested Jake Stodeur to make the final round.

Top Fuel Harley winner – Tii Tharpe


The Lucas Oil Lowdown

The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series was in town for the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn. Jimmy Hidalgo Jr., Donaldsonville, La., and Steve Furr, Harrisburg, N.C., led the list of winners celebrating with their teams.

Super Gas standouts, Furr and Jacob Elrod, Harrod, Ohio, took the starting line for battle in the final round. Furr took a great light at the tree (.008 seconds) and went on to win his sixth national event Wally trophy. The North Carolina racer recorded a victory pass of 9.914 seconds, 149.75 mph. Elrod followed with 9.896 seconds, 156.34 mph.

Hidalgo Jr. also had a stellar reaction time (.005 seconds) and took the easy win in the Stock Eliminator final round. John Leach, Baltimore, Md., jumped out of the gate too early, setting off the red light. Hidalgo Jr. finished up at 10.990 seconds, 117.12 mph. Leach, runner upped at 10.790 seconds, 122.19 mph.

Stock eliminator class winner Jimmy Hidalgo Jr.

The Stanfield family headed into the Super Stock final round looking to take a second win of the day, as Aaron Stanfield, Bossier City, La., took a near perfect light at .001 seconds, to upend Angela Travis, Conover, N.C., in the Top Dragster presented by Racing RV’s final round. However, Greg Stanfield was unable to follow up on his son’s victory as Marty Rinehart Jr., Thomasville, Pa., grabbed the better start, holding off Stanfield for the victory in the Super Stock final round. Rinehart Jr., recorded a victory pass of 9.980 seconds, 129.23 mph; Stanfield 8.731 seconds, 158.17 mph.

Clayton Roberts of Willow Spring, N.C., prevailed in a tough, close battle against Jeffrey Barker, Kathleen, Ga., in the Top Sportsman Presented by Racing RV’s final round. Roberts finished at 7.542 seconds, 180.31 mph, as Barker came in at 6.704 seconds, 197.28 mph.

David Morris rounded out the winner’s list, taking the Super Comp national event Wally trophy back to York, S.C., running 8.902 seconds, 159.89 mph to defeat the red hot John Labbous of White House, Tenn.

Super Gas standout Steve Furr won racing his reliable Chevy Camaro

Posted with files by NHRA Communications, Bruce Biegler & Keith Yazdanseta
Photos by Marc Gewertz and Bruce Biegler