Grand Bend: Round three preview

IHRA Heads North for Mopar Canadian Nationals NORWALK, Ohio (May 29, 2006) -- Grand Bend Motorplex, the home of the eMax Drag Racing Series' Mopar Canadian Nationals presented by Castrol June 2-4, will always hold a special place in ...

IHRA Heads North for Mopar Canadian Nationals

NORWALK, Ohio (May 29, 2006) -- Grand Bend Motorplex, the home of the eMax Drag Racing Series' Mopar Canadian Nationals presented by Castrol June 2-4, will always hold a special place in Clay Millican's heart. The five-time defending Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel World Champion captured his first career professional Ironman at Grand Bend in 2000, topping racing legend Shirley Muldowney in the final. He has won an astounding 44 national events since then, but is still looking for his first trip to the Winner's Circle in 2006. Millican is always happy to go back to Grand Bend.

"Grand Bend always brings a smile to my face because that's where I got to race Shirley," he said. "Win or lose, racing against her was one of the highlights of my career. She is such an icon in our sport."

Millican also feels comfortable heading back to Canada. He loves Grand Bend Motorplex for a number of reasons. One is the face that he has won five of the last six Top Fuel Ironmen there. Another is the people.

"Grand Bend is one of those places you feel good going to, no matter how the car is running," he said. "The people are always so nice and happy to see you. They really appreciate us coming to Canada and it usually makes for a great weekend."

Despite not winning an event this season, Millican remains very much alive in the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel points race. He is in second place, just 24 points behind front-running Doug Foley.

"Twenty-four points is 24 points," Millican said. "It's awesome that so many other Top Fuel teams have stepped their programs up and are running well. It really makes what we do a lot of fun."

Millican and his Kenny Koretsky Motorsports team have recently gone back to the car they drove to the 2005 World Championship. The car, nicknamed "Flipper" for its blow-over in Milan, Mich., last season, was brought out for the first time this year at the NHRA event in Atlanta.

The championship race in Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car is already a scramble. Gary Densham, who won the season opener in San Antonio, currently leads the pack with 204 points. Vinny Arcadi and Bob Gilbertson are right on his heels with 138 points while the winner in Rockingham, Jack Wyatt, sits in fourth with 130 points.

Due to a scheduling conflict, Densham will not make the trip to Grand Bend, leaving the class wide open and giving the other members of the top five a chance to make a move.

Canadian Glen Kerunsky sits atop the Torco Pro Modified point standings, having won the season opener in San Antonio and advancing to the final in Rockingham. He currently has 213 points, 54 ahead of second place Tommy D'Aprile.

Mark Thomas has a slight lead over three-time defending Alcohol Funny Car champion Rob Atchison in the points race, 195 to 182. But Grand Bend is Atchison's home track. Atchison, however, has not won at Grand Bend Motorplex since 2003. Thomas and Atchison have a rivalry that reaches back five years. Most times it's friendly, but the pair has been known to trade a few barbs here and there.

"I love going to Grand Bend and doing well," Thomas said. "Grand Bend to Rob is like Norwalk to me, its home. Rob has never won or been the top qualifier at Norwalk while I have won and qualified #1 at Grand Bend. That really spices up the rivalry a little bit. Rob always wants to win at Grand Bend so badly, and that makes me want to win there even worse. What can I say, we like kicking sand in each other's faces when we can."

The Torco Pro Stock points race is as close as it could possibly be. Frank Gugliotta and Tony Gillig, who each have one event win and advanced to the semifinals in the other eMax Drag Racing Series event, are tied for the lead with 193 points.

-ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas , Shirley Muldowney , Tony Gillig , Gary Densham , Kenny Koretsky , Jack Wyatt , Doug Foley , Glen Kerunsky , Frank Gugliotta