Clay Millican raced to his first career Top Fuel victory Sunday at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, as Ron Capps took his fifth Funny Car win of the season and Alex Laughlin conquered the Pro Stock class.
Clay Millican, a Tennessee native, raced a 3.825-second pass at 316.38 mph to defeat Leah Pritchett, who set a 3.881 pass at 307.09 in her Papa John's dragster. Millican became the 103rd different driver to win in Top Fuel. This was Millican's 254th NHRA Top Fuel start and the ninth final round of his career.
“I love what I do,” Millican said. “There were times I ever wondered if this was going to happen.
“I don’t deserve this credit. I’m really happy for David Grubnic and all of the boys who work on this car and I mean that 100 percent.”
Millican battled past Kyle Wurtzel, Brittany Force and Steve Torrence en route to the finals whereas Pritchett defeated Troy Coughlin Jr., Scott Palmer and Shawn Langdon on her way to the final round.
Millican is seventh in points while Pritchett moved from third to second. Torrence now has possession of the Top Fuel points lead.
Defending Funny Car champion Ron Capps raced to his fifth victory this season and 55th of his career in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T. He won on a holeshot against Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T with a pass of 4.054 at 317.05.
“We’ve gotten a few lucky rounds, but it’s been preparation in the offseason,” Capps stated. “We had runs on Sunday against four of the toughest cars, drivers and crew chiefs combined. You read down the list of people we had to beat in a new car. There are not very many teams that are that prepared to pull a car out and have a quicker set-up than we were.”
Capps ties John Force with most Funny Car victories at Bristol Dragway with four apiece on their résumé.
Before entering the final round, Capps defeated Alexis DeJoria, Robert Hight and teammate Matt Hagan. Beckman sailed past Cruz Pedregon, Courtney Force and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. before seeing Capps for the second consecutive final round but this time losing.
Alex Laughlin clinched his first Wally of the season and second of his career with a perfect reaction time in the finals. He powered his Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.718 at 205.04 to defeat Bo Butner in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro. Laughlin is the eighth different Pro Stock winner this season.
“We didn’t really have anything handed to us; we had some good matchups all day,” Laughlin stated. “I definitely feel like I had a point to prove. We have a competitive car on the starting line. I came into this weekend with the confidence to win.”
Laughlin raced past Alan Johnson, No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin and rookie Tanner Gray before facing Butner in the final round. Butner lined up against Wally Stroupe and two-time world champion Erica Enders en route to his fourth final round appearance this season.
Final finish order at 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway
TOP FUEL: 1. Clay Millican; 2. Leah Pritchett; 3. Shawn Langdon; 4. Steve Torrence; 5. Scott Palmer; 6.Brittany Force; 7. Antron Brown; 8. Mike Salinas; 9. Kebin Kinsley; 10. Tony Schumacher; 11.Terry McMillen; 12. Doug Kalitta; 13. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 14. Chris Karamesines; 15. Pat Dakin; 16. Kyle Wurtzel.
Final: Clay Millican, 3.825 seconds, 316.38 mph def. Leah Pritchett, 3.881 seconds, 307.09 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Ron Capps; 2. Jack Beckman; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 4. Matt Hagan; 5. Robert Hight; 6. Tim Wilkerson; 7. Courtney Force; 8. John Force; 9. Del Worsham; 10. Alexis DeJoria; 11. Cruz Pedregon; 12. J.R. Todd; 13. Jonnie Lindberg; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. Jeff Diehl; 16. Bob Bode.
Final: Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.054, 317.05 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.040, 319.29.
PRO STOCK: 1. Alex Laughlin; 2. Bo Butner; 3. Erica Enders; 4. Tanner Gray; 5. Shane Gray; 6. Jeg Coughlin; 7. Vincent Nobile; 8. Allen Johnson; 9. Jason Line; 10. Greg Anderson; 11. Drew Skillman; 12. Alan Prusiensky; 13. Wally Stroupe.
Final: Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.718, 205.04 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.729, 205.79.
Points standings after 11 of 24 events in 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 954; 2. Leah Pritchett, 943; 3. Antron Brown, 934; 4. Tony Schumacher, 801; 5. Doug Kalitta, 678; 6. Brittany Force, 649; 7. Clay Millican, 639; 8. Troy Coughlin Jr., 443; 9. Scott Palmer, 432; 10. Terry McMillen, 424.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Ron Capps, 1,044; 2. Matt Hagan, 881; 3. Jack Beckman, 748; 4. Robert Hight, 707;
5. Courtney Force, 704; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 663; 7. John Force, 641; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 490; 9. J.R. Todd, 476; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 397.
PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 945; 2. Greg Anderson, 835; 3. Tanner Gray, 830; 4. Jeg Coughlin, 766; 5. Jason Line, 702; 6. Erica Enders, 657; 7. Vincent Nobile, 617; 8. Drew Skillman, 536; 9. Shane Gray, 434; 10. Chris McGaha, 421.