US 131 Saturday qualifying summary

Millican Saves Best for Last With all the excitement surrounding T.J. Zizzo's IHRA Top Fuel debut and Doug Foley following up his strong showing in Toronto two weeks ago with a quality Friday evening qualifying session, people seemed to be ...

Millican Saves Best for Last

With all the excitement surrounding T.J. Zizzo's IHRA Top Fuel debut and Doug Foley following up his strong showing in Toronto two weeks ago with a quality Friday evening qualifying session, people seemed to be overlooking someone very important. It isn't often when the four-time defending World Champion is an afterthought, but that is what Clay Millican (Drummonds, Tenn.) was at the Torco Race Fuels Northern Nationals at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.

It didn't take long for Millican to put himself back squarely in the spotlight.

Breaking both ends of the track record, Millican blasted his way to the #1 qualifier position with a 4.609/318.09 pass during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. No one in the evening session could better Millican's afternoon run, leaving Millican in his Werner Enterprises '05 Hadman on the top of the heap.

"Let everyone else think about the other teams," Millican's Crew Chief, Mike Kloeber, said. "All we can do is think about ourselves and getting this car down the race track one run at a time. What everyone else thinks is kind of up to them. We just keep our heads down and do good work. If we do that we'll get good results."

Millican is grateful so many quality cars were in Martin for the race.

"I think is it awesome that Evan Knoll has so many good cars out here," Millican said. "Without cars here we won't get fans in the stands and without fans in the stands we won't have a race. That means I don't get to show off. Evan Knoll is out there making things happen and I'm really glad for that."

In fact, six of the eight drivers who qualified for the Top Fuel field, T.J. Zizzo, Doug Foley, Bruce Litton, Rick Cooper, Dale Creasy, Jr. and Bobby Lagana, Jr. receive sponsorship money from Knoll's Torco Race Fuels.

The evening session was not without suspense, however. Lagana, Jr. (Scarsdale, N.Y.) was sitting on the bump with a 4.836 when Chris Karamesines (Chicago, Ill.) and Tim Cullinan (Franklin Park, Ill.) pulled into the staging lanes for the second to last pair of cars before the field was solidified. Both had the chance to bump Lagana out and Karamesines had a solid run.but fell .002 short.

"It's my brother Dom's birthday today so we'll take it," Lagana said. "This is tough, though, because I feel really bad for The Greek. We are such close friends and I root for him all the time, so that makes this really hard. But I've been on his end so many times."

Steve Spiess' '05 Chevy Cobalt continued to be the Torco Pro Stock car the entire field is chasing as he claimed the #1 qualifying position for the second time in as many races. Spiess (Manhattan, Ill.) ran a 6.446/214.48 to sit atop the field heading into Sunday's elimination rounds.

He won the Pro Stock Ironman two weeks ago at Toronto Motorsports Park, in the process barely missing becoming the first Torco Pro Stock driver in IHRA history to card a lap in the 6.30's when he notched a 6.400 pass in Saturday evening qualifying session. He set the track record at U.S. 131 at 6.446.

Jim Sickles (Caledonia, N.Y.) put two-time defending IHRA Funny Car World Champion Rob Atchison in an unfamiliar place when final qualifying was completed.not at the top of the heap. Sickles, in his last shot at the track Saturday evening, posted a 5.829/242.67 to top Atchison's 5.835/240.34 and send Atchison to the #2 spot.

Five-time IHRA Funny Car World Champion Mark Thomas had his fans on edge Saturday evening, as he could not crack the top eight and make the field during the first two qualifying sessions. He came up big in his last chance, however, as his 5.877/241.11 put him in the #3 position and into Sunday's field.

In the Torco Pro Mod class the big story was not who made the field for Sunday's elimination was who was on the outside looking in. Shannon Jenkins (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), the #1 ranked Pro Mod driver in the world, could not get down the track under power on his final shot and will not be involved in Sunday's competition.

The #1 qualifier won a little bit more than just lane choice and the chance to race the #16 qualifier in Sunday's first round of eliminations. Carl Spiering (Jordan Station, Ont.) also won the Torco Pro Mod Shootout and the $20,000 prize that went along with it when he defeated Jim Halsey in the final of the competition. The Torco Pro Mod Shootout pitted the top eight Pro Mod cars ranked through a qualifying points system this season.

Spiering is on a roll as he was the national event winner at the ACDelco Canadian Nationals two weeks ago. His 6.192/230.65 put him ahead of Mike Castellana, who also ran in the 6.19's during Saturday afternoon.

The Torco Race Fuels Northern Nationals will continue Sunday with pro eliminations starting at 11 a.m.


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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas , Clay Millican , Bruce Litton , Chris Karamesines , Shannon Jenkins , Jim Sickles , Doug Foley , Steve Spiess , Tim Cullinan