By Lee Elder
BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 16, 2018) – Clay Millican posted the quickest pass in Top Fuel qualifying Friday and will start on the top spot of the eliminations ladder Sunday at the Fitzgerald USA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. But Millican’s most impressive pass of the weekend came Sunday.
Greg Anderson qualified tops in Pro Stock and Courtney Force was best in Funny Car.
Millican’s 3.924-second pass in the fourth qualifying session came with the track temperature at 132 degrees. It was the best pass of the round and, under the circumstances, was a solid indicator that Millican is a threat to win the race because the track conditions Sunday could be roughly the same as they were for the fourth session pass. Millican was the only Top Fuel driver to cut under the four-second barrier that session. Millican’s car was the quickest in three of the four qualifying sessions this weekend.
“I’m certainly smiling, the way this went down the track today, as hot as it is and as much as everyone was struggling,” Millican said. Millican said the team has been working on ways to perform better in the summer months with the track temperatures will be high.
He won his first NHRA Top Fuel race at Bristol a year ago and has won two of the last three NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events.
“I love this race track; it’s by far my favorite place to race,” Millican said.
Anderson topped the Pro Stock ladder at 6.674 seconds, a run he made Friday evening.
“I’m just out here having fun and trying to win races, not set records,” Anderson said.
He’s done both through the years. Anderson’s pole was the 100th of his career, which will eventually find him in the Hall of Fame. Only John Force, Warren Johnson and Bob Glidden have passed the century mark for top qualifiers.
“It’s a team award and we’re going to celebrate this one because I’m not sure if I’m going to be around for number 200,” Anderson joked. “I’ve certainly looked up to the other guys who have reached this milestone.”
It appears Jeg Coughlin, who qualified second, will get a by run in the first round of Pro Stock qualifying. Tommy Lee, who qualified 15th, was unable to stop his car at the end of his third-round pass and ran all the way into the safety netting at the end of the track, damaging the car. Lee was not injured but it was reported that he will not race Sunday. That would give Coughlin a bye run in the first round.
Force topped the Funny Car sheets despite fighting to get the car down the track in qualifying.
“We just want to learn about this car because we’ve still got a long season to go,” she said. “This weekend we had only one good run, in prime conditions.”
Her quick run was 3.993 seconds on Friday.
NOTES: Pro Stock driver Tommy Lee made a 7.148-second/195.39 mph pass in Q3 and could not stop when his parachutes failed to deploy. … The track temperature was 132 degrees at the start of the fourth professional qualifying session for the nitro categories. … Doug Winters exited his Pro Mod racer under his own power after crashing Sunday.