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IHRA heads to the Rock IHRA Heads North From San Antonio to Historic Rockingham Dragway For 35th Annual IHRA Spring Nationals Presented By Advance Auto Parts and Castrol Three world records set at fabled strip in 2004, records will fall...

IHRA heads to the Rock

IHRA Heads North From San Antonio to Historic Rockingham Dragway For 35th Annual IHRA Spring Nationals Presented By Advance Auto Parts and Castrol

Three world records set at fabled strip in 2004, records will fall again in 2005; Millican continues quest for unprecedented fifth straight world title

IHRA Top Fuel driver Clay Millican (Drummonds, Tenn.) has turned the drag strip at Rockingham Dragway into his personal playground over the last four years.

Millican, the four-time defending Top Fuel World Champion, driving the Werner Enterprises 2004 Hadman Dragster for the Peter Lehman Racing Team, has won eight consecutive IHRA national events at "The Rock" and will be searching for number nine during the IHRA Spring Nationals April 22-24. Millican has already claimed his first victory of the season in the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks, and RVs and the San Antonio Express-News, and to get his second he's going to have to drive through some stiff competition.

Doug Foley (Sewell, N.J.), the reigning IHRA Professional Rookie of the Year, bought Scott Kalitta's Jesse James dragster during the off-season and has defeated Millican both times the pair have locked horns head to head. Rick Cooper (Boise, Idaho), who has joined forces with Foley on the Doug Foley/Tim Lewis Racing Team, will be driving the car Foley won three Ironmen in last season. Add Bruce Litton (Indianapolis, Ind.), Top Fuel runner up the last three seasons, Bobby Lagana (Scarsdale, N.Y.) and "Turbo" Tim Cullinan (Franklin Park, Ill.) to the mix and it is apparent Millican has his work cut out for him.

Mike Janis (Lancaster, N.Y.) will look to build off his '04 Torco Race Fuels Pro Modified World Championship at Rockingham...a place he has won at before. Janis captured the Spring Nationals Ironman last season when he knocked off Al Billes (Barrie, Ont., Canada) in the finals. Billes went on to set an IHRA elapsed time world record at Rockingham in October in winning at the Bethesda Softworks World Finals. Janis will be sporting a new ride, having climbed out of his '63 Corvette (dubbed "The Widowmaker") and into an '05 Dodge Stratus. Billes has undergone changes as well. After being named DragRaceCanada.com's Driver of the Year in '04, Billes has teamed up with Summit Racing Equipment and Team Owner Jim Oddy (Elma, N.Y.). Billes will also be sporting an '05 Stratus. Ed Hoover (Gilbert, S.C.) took home the victory at the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks and RVs, and is looking to make some noise close to his home state.

In Funny Car, Rob Atchison (London, Ont., Canada) won the war last season when he overcame a huge early-season hole to ace out five-time World Champion Mark Thomas (Louisville, Ohio) for the title. The new season started off much like 2004, as Atchison dispatched Thomas on his way to a win in the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks, and RVs and the San Antonio Express-News.

Off the track the pair can coexist peacefully. On the track, however, is an entirely different story as the two have been known to trade barbs in the staging lanes and shutdown area. Recently Thomas told DRM, the official magazine of IHRA racing, "We love to see each other do well. We also love to see each other falter," when speaking of his rivalry with Atchison.

Terry McMillen (Elkhart, Ind.), Jim Sickles (Caledonia, N.Y.) and Jeff Burnett (Brownsburg, Ind.) are also expected to see their share of national event finals this season. McMillen, in the ever-popular "Instigator" '99 Avenger finished third in World Championship points last season while Sickles won three Ironmen in '04. Burnett claimed an Ironman last season as well.

With elapsed times dipping into the 6.30's during off-season testing, the Torco Race Fuels Pro Stock class is expected to have the fastest, and tightest, qualifying fields in the class' history. Defending IHRA World Champion John Nobile (Dix Hills, N.Y.) will bring his Ford ZX2 back to the track where he set the IHRA elapsed time world record at 6.435 last fall. That record has already fallen as Robert Patrick (Fredericksburg, Va.) cruised to a 6.427 at San Antonio Raceway during the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks, and RVs.

During off season testing Patrick, Steve Spiess (Manhattan, Ill.) and Pete Berner (Crete, Ill.) were each able to clock runs in the 6.30's and every racer will be looking to run the first sanctioned IHRA 6.30 pass in history.

Professional classes start qualifying at 7:00 pm during the Castrol "Night of Fire." Pro qualifying resumes Saturday at 1:00 pm, featuring an autograph session after the qualifying round. Pro qualifying resumes again during the "Castrol Night of Fire" Saturday night at 7:00 pm. Pro eliminations start Sunday at 11:00 am, with round 2 at 1:00 pm, Pro semi-finals at 3:00 pm, and Pro finals beginning at 4:30 pm.

For tickets, call 910-582-3400. Log onto www.rockinghamdragway.com or www.ihra.com for more information.

-ihra-

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Series Drag
Drivers Mike Janis , Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Bruce Litton , John Nobile , Ed Hoover , Scott Kalitta , Al Billes , Jim Sickles , Doug Foley , Tim Lewis , Steve Spiess , Jesse James , Tim Cullinan , Terry McMillen