Milan: Round five preview

Milan, Michigan Next Stop on eMax Drag Racing Series Much will be Determined in Milan at Suzuki Motor City Nationals NORWALK, Ohio (July 5, 2006) -- Last season, Clay Millican lost his first Knoll Gas -- Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel...

Milan, Michigan Next Stop on eMax Drag Racing Series
Much will be Determined in Milan at Suzuki Motor City Nationals

NORWALK, Ohio (July 5, 2006) -- Last season, Clay Millican lost his first Knoll Gas -- Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel race of the season when he suffered a blow-over in his semifinal contest with Bruce Litton at the Motor City Nationals. Louie Allison would go on to win for the second consecutive season at Milan Dragway. Millican, meanwhile, compared to past seasons, has struggled. He claimed the points lead after a runner-up finish in Grand Bend, and the Mike Kloeber-tuned Werner Enterprises/Kenny Koretsky Racing driver just won their first event of the 2006 eMax Drag Racing Series two weeks ago in Edmonton.

Millican has been lights out to start the last four seasons. Starting in 2002 when Millican won the first 10 IHRA national events, Millican has not had to search too hard for season victory #1. He won four straight to open the 2003 season and five straight to open the 2004 and 2005 campaigns. You have to go back to 2001 for the last time Millican did not visit the Winner's Circle in the first couple of races. Then he won the fourth event of the year with a victory over Jim Bailey in the Amalie Oil Summer Nationals at Cordova Dragway.

The fact that Millican has only visited the Winner's Circle once this season and is still atop the points standings tells you how competitive the class has been. There were three different winners in the first three races...Doug Foley in San Antonio, Cory McClenathan in Rockingham and Bobby Lagana, Jr. in Grand Bend. In fact, less than 200 points separate Millican from fifth place Litton in the point standings heading into this weekend's Suzuki Motor City Nationals presented by GM Performance Divisions and the Heritage Newspapers, July 7 -- 9, at Milan Dragway.

While the Top Fuel race is close, the Knoll Gas -- Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car standings are even tighter. Bob Gilbertson was the point leader heading into Edmonton, but after not attending that event, he now sits in 4th place, 99 points behind leader Dale Creasy, Jr. A month ago, Creasy had never won an event in nearly 10 years behind the wheel. Then, he won in Grand Bend, and followed it up two weeks later with a win in Edmonton. Creasy is trailed by Jack Wyatt and Vinny Arcadi, then Gilbertson, Terry Haddock and Gary Densham.

Gilbertson is not expected to make it to every eMax Drag Racing Series event and Densham has already missed two, so the 31 point bonus for driving at each event could play a huge role in determining the championship. To make things even more interesting in Milan, NHRA regular Del Worsham will be racing. Worsham, who will compete in his Murray's Discount Auto Nitro Funny Car, is IHRA's "defending" world champion from 1992, that last year the class ran in regular competition.

The Knoll Gas -- Torco Pro Modified class was seemingly under control for Canadian Glen Kerunsky. He won the opener in San Antonio and was in the finals both in Rockingham and Grand Bend, but his 100+ point lead slipped away in a hurry after Quain Stott won in Edmonton. Stott and teammate Tommy D'Aprile have qualified and run well all season, and now trail Kerunsky by 35 and 100 points respectively. If Kerunsky can continue his early season magic, he should be able to stave off the two drivers, as well as other lurking threats in Dan Rowe, Jim Halsey, Carl Spiering and Alan Pittman.

Speaking of early season magic, Mark Thomas has started this season like he is planning on running away and hiding with the Alcohol Funny Car championship race. Thomas won two of the first three events and headed into Edmonton with a 310-236 points lead on second place Rob Atchison. Atchison is the three-time defending class world champion, however, and this pair has been down this road before. In 2004, Thomas won the first four national events of the season and enjoyed a commanding lead in the points race. But at the season-ending IHRA Champion's Banquet it was Atchison giving the speech and picking up the hardware.

In Edmonton, Thomas went out in the first round and Atchison second round, with the race going to Tom Carter, who won earlier this season in Rockingham. Thomas still has the lead over Atchison by 55 points, with Carter and his two wins trailing Thomas by 88.

Knoll Gas -- Torco Pro Stock is a nail biter as well. Tony Gillig lead heading into Edmonton, but Frank Gugliotta, event winner from San Antonio, won in Edmonton and took the lead back. Gillig trails by 11 points, followed by Pete Berner, Jeff Dobbins and Robert Patrick. The level of competition in this class, year after year, almost guarantees excitement until the final race of the season.

-ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Alan Pittman , Tony Gillig , Robert Patrick , Bob Gilbertson , Del Worsham , Quain Stott , Gary Densham , Louie Allison , Cory McClenathan , Kenny Koretsky , Jack Wyatt , Doug Foley , Terry Haddock , Jim Halsey , Glen Kerunsky , Frank Gugliotta