Clay Millican Is Tops In Gatornationals Qualifying

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Clay Millican Is Tops
Clay Millican, seen here at Lucas Oil Raceway, topped NHRA Gatornationals qualifying on Friday at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway. (NHRA photo)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In the first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race outside of Indianapolis since February, Top Fuel’s Clay Millican powered to the No. 1 spot in qualifying during Saturday’s 51st annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 in their respective categories at the seventh race of the NHRA season.

After resuming its season in July, the past four NHRA races had been in Indianapolis before this weekend’s Gatornationals, which is taking place in September for the first time in NHRA history after being postponed six months.

Millican’s impressive run of 3.821-seconds at 313.51 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Parts Plus dragster gave him the No. 1 position for the second time in four races and the 25th time in his career. Next up is trying to pick up his first victory of the 2020 season.

“That was pretty cool,” Millican said. “This is a big race and we were proud to go No. 1. We’ve had the craziest racing gremlins on the car. We’ve qualified well and haven’t raced worth a darn (at Indy). I lost this race in the final round last year, and that one was my fault. So, would I like to make up for it tomorrow? Absolutely.”

Billy Torrence took the second spot thanks to his 3.828 at 320.28, while Antron Brown qualified third with a 3.831 at 320.36.

Point leader Doug Kalitta starts eliminations from sixth after going 3.869 at 300.13.

Hagan made the only three-second run in Funny Car action, closing out qualifying with a pass of 3.975 at 321.35 in his 11,000-horsepower Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye to take the No. 1 spot.

Hagan, who is currently second in points behind Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman, picked up his third No. 1 qualifier of 2020 and 39th in his career, as he also tries to win for the third time this year.

A DSR victory would also give the team its 10th straight Funny Car win, dating back to 2019.

Tim Wilkerson qualified second with a 4.003 at 318.47 and Bob Tasca III is a spot behind after his run of 4.020 at 317.57.

Points leader Beckman will open race day from the ninth spot after going 4.123 at 254.18.

Pro Stock’s Kramer jumped to the top spot on the last qualifying pair of the day in the class, going 6.602 at 208.78 in his American Ethanol Chevrolet Camaro.

Kramer slipped past reigning champion and current points leader Erica Enders on the pass, claiming his first No. 1 qualifier of 2020 and fifth in his career. He will take on Bob Benza to open race day, seeking his first victory of the season.

Enders, who also won the most recent event, finished second in qualifying with her 6.608 at 208.65, while Matt Hartford jumped to the third spot with his pass of 6.608 at 207.08 during the last qualifying session.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith was impressive on Saturday, making the quickest run during both qualifying sessions, including a 6.814 at 198.96 on his DENSO Auto Parts/Stockseth Racing EBR during the final qualifier.

It gives Smith, a three-time world champion, his second No. 1 qualifier in 2020 and 40th in his standout career.

Smith will face off with Kelly Clontz to open eliminations as Smith seeks his first victory of the year.

Angelle Sampey, who has a win this season, qualified second with a 6.858 at 197.08 and Eddie Krawiec’s 6.862 at 198.35 puts him third.

Point leader Scotty Pollacheck is a spot behind after going 6.872 at 196.62.

In the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, Brandon Snider raced to the No. 1 spot for the first time in his career, going 5.813 at 246.66 in his blown Al-Anabi Performance Corvette.

He will take on AAP teammate Todd Tutterow, who won in Gainesville last year, to open eliminations.

Reigning world champ and points leader Stevie “Fast” Jackson, who also won the most recent race in Indy, jumped to the second spot in the final qualifying session with a 5.851 at 246.62 and former world champ Mike Janis qualified third after going 5.861 at 244.07.