ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. – Veteran Top Fuel driver Clay Millican raced to the qualifying lead Friday at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
Millican powered his Parts Plus dragster to a leading performance of 3.792 seconds at 321.27 mph during the second of two qualifying sessions. If the effort stands it will be Millican’s first No. 1 qualifying position in his 155-race career.
“We hope this is just the initial start of good things to come,” Millican said. “We’ve had a great season and our car has run well everywhere we’ve run. It was a huge deal for me to keep the car nice and straight. What a great run. Some of our best numbers ever.”
Khalid alBalooshi was second in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.770 at 324.98 and series points leader Tony Schumacher was third in his U.S. Army dragster, posting a 3.777 at 317.34. New Jersey native and defending world champion Antron Brown was 12th in his Matco Tools dragster, posting a 3.888 at 302.62.
The 2011 Mello Yello Funny Car world champion Hagan made the quickest run on Friday’s second qualifying session with a performance of 4.050 at 315.64 in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Footwear Dodge Charger. If the effort holds, this would be Hagan’s second No. 1 qualifying position of the season, first at Englishtown and the 12th of his career.
“It’s all about setting up on Friday and we got to make a good run,” Hagan said. “[Crew chief] Dickie Venables has been knocking it out of the park. He’s been giving me a car that stays lit and is easy to drive, so all I really have to think about is my reaction time. He’s been a real leader for our team. He hasn’t had a real fair shake for the last couple years, and he’s impressed me with how motivated he is and how much he cares for this job.”
Del Worsham, a two-time Englishtown winner, was second with a 4.074 at 312.78 in his DHL Toyota Camry, and defending world champion Jack Beckman was third in his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger with a 4.074 at 308.35.
In Pro Stock, series points leader Edwards continues to lead in the category by posting a leading performance of 6.545 at 210.73 in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro.
"We made two really nice runs and once again my guys have done a tremendous job," Edwards said. "It's been an awesome season for us and hopefully we can get better."
If Edwards’ time stands, it will be his eighth No. 1 qualifying position of the season, 49th of his career and second at Englishtown.
Shane Gray was second in his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro with a 6.564 at 210.41 and Erica Enders-Stevens was third in her Black iGuana-backed Chevrolet Camaro with a 6.569 at 210.50. New York native Vincent Nobile was seventh in his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger, posting a 6.595 at 210.37 while defending world champion Allen Johnson was sixth with a performance of 6.590 at 211.06 in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Johnson raced to the qualifying lead aboard his Steve Johnson Racing Suzuki with a 6.931 at 192.22. He has not posted a No. 1 qualifying position since the Norwalk event in 2010, and if his time stays, it would be his third No. 1 qualifying position of his career.
“I don’t know if it will hold up but it will be cool as heck if it does,” Johnson said. "There is so much attention on our series right now and so much publicity. We’re going to Epping in a couple of weeks for the inaugural race there and this is a good tune-up for that. We have a new engine and it was good to see what we can do in this kind of weather. The track was really hot, and we have not run on anything like that yet. We experimented a little on that second run and that’s why it was a little slow."
Points leader Hector Arana Jr. made the quickest run in the second session of Friday’s qualifying on his Lucas Oil Buell with a 6.933 at 192.88, moving him to the second spot while Michael Ray holds on to the third position on his Soverign-Star Racing Buell with a 6.943 at 192.60.
The final two qualifying sessions are Saturday at noon and 2:15 p.m. Sunday’s eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m.