Rockingham I: Round two preview

Millican Looking for 10 Straight at Nicko's NY Style Pizza Spring Nationals Five-time defending Top Fuel champion wants to extend streak at Rockingham Dragway NORWALK, Ohio (April 10, 2006) -- Clay Millican, driver of the Werner Enterprises...

Millican Looking for 10 Straight at Nicko's NY Style Pizza Spring Nationals

Five-time defending Top Fuel champion wants to extend streak at Rockingham Dragway

NORWALK, Ohio (April 10, 2006) -- Clay Millican, driver of the Werner Enterprises dragster in the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel class, will attempt to claim his 10th-consecutive event win at Rockingham Dragway during the upcoming Nicko's NY Style Pizza Spring Nationals presented by Advance Auto Parts, April 21 -- 23.

To say Clay Millican is comfortable at Rockingham Dragway is a major understatement. Truth be told, Rockingham is like a second home to the Drummonds, Tenn. resident. His streak of success at the historic North Carolina strip is unparalleled in the history of the eMax Drag Racing Series.

In the fall of 2001 Millican defeated Louie Allison to capture the Top Fuel Ironman at the CARQUEST Autumn Nationals at Rockingham Dragway. That win was the start of something special. Since that race, Millican has not lost in a final round at Rockingham, reeling off eight additional consecutive wins. He has beaten the likes of Rhonda Hartman-Smith (twice), Danny Dunn (twice), Rick Cooper and Doug Foley along the way.

Millican set the IHRA world elapsed time record last fall at Rockingham during the Udderly SMOOth World Finals, clocking a 4.484. He also owns the track speed record at 323.19 mph. In addition to consecutive wins, he's won a total of 10 races at Rockingham, since his first win at the track, defeating Paul Romine during the 2000 Autumn Nationals.

"I don't know what it is about Rockingham, but it has been absolutely the place for us over the years," Millican said. "We went to our first-ever Top Fuel final at Rockingham. We lost back then, but that kind of started us off on this path we're on now. Rockingham has been very good to us, that's for sure."

When Millican's Werner Enterprises/Kenny Koretsky Motorsports Team rolls into Rockingham Dragway April 21 it will do so in a very unfamiliar place. When Doug Foley defeated Millican in the final of the season-opening Amalie Oil Texas Nationals, it put Millican behind in the eMax Drag Racing Series Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel point standings for the first time in five years.

"The instant I saw that car pass me in the final round, that race was over," Millican said. "At that point I put it out of my mind and started focusing on the next race. But you have to give Doug all the credit in the world. He made the best run of the weekend when it counted the most. We're not happy to be behind in the points, but I can't control what the car in the other lane does. And they did a better job than we did."

The Spring Nationals in Rockingham will be a kind of homecoming for Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car driver Bob Gilbertson, a Charlotte, N.C. native. Gilbertson competes primarily on the NHRA tour, but raced at the eMax season opener in San Antonio and will also be in Rockingham. After falling to Cruz Pedregon in the first round at San Antonio Raceway, Gilbertson will be looking to make a move in the Nitro Funny Car standings.

In Alcohol Funny Car, Mark Thomas rekindled one of the longest-standing rivalries in the class when he knocked off three-time defending world champion Rob Atchison in the finals at San Antonio Raceway. Thomas is a five-time world champion, but has not been able to get around Atchison in the points race over the last three seasons. He finished second in the world twice over that span and third last season.

In a new 2006 Monte Carlo, Thomas returned to his winning ways in San Antonio. He qualified in the #2 position and blew through the first two rounds before topping a tire-shaking Atchison in the final.

If the season opener is any indication, the Torco Pro Modified class is in for a wild season. Rick Distefano qualified in the #1 position with a sizzling 6.062 pass, but the real story was at the bottom of the qualifying ladder. Burton Auxier ended up on the bump spot with a 6.195, making the Texas Nationals Torco Pro Mod field the fastest in eMax Drag Racing Series history. The previous fastest field occurred in Rockingham at the 2003 World Finals when the bump spot was a 6.225.

The Torco Pro Stock field was quick in San Antonio as well. Brian Gahm was the top qualifier with a 6.354 (a provisional world record he was unable to back up) and Elijah Morton ended up on the bump spot with a respectable 6.457. It was the second-fastest Torco Pro Stock field in history, second only to the 2005 World Finals field in Rockingham.

The Nicko's NY Style Pizza Spring Nationals will begin Friday, April 21, at Rockingham Dragway and will conclude with championship eliminations Sunday, April 23.

-ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Paul Romine , Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Bob Gilbertson , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Louie Allison , Cruz Pedregon , Kenny Koretsky , Doug Foley