EPPING, N.H. – Clay Millican raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel on Saturday at the seventh annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
Defending Funny Car world champion J.R. Todd also qualified No. 1 at the 13th of 24 events during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Qualifying concluded after the third session on Saturday due to weather.
Millican claimed his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and 22nd in his career after his pass of 3.795 seconds at 326.71 mph from Friday in his Parts Plus/Laris Motorsports Insurance dragster held up. Richie Crampton, who won earlier this year in Gainesville, finished No. 2 with a run of 3.825 seconds at 319.07 mph, while Kalitta Motorsports teammate Doug Kalitta was a spot behind in third.
Points leader and defending world champ Steve Torrence, who has six wins in the last seven races, will start eliminations from ninth after his 4.170-second pass at 218.72 mph.
Millican will race for his first win of the year and his first NHRA Top Fuel victory with crew chief Mike Kloeber on Sunday.
“Obviously we had a big change in the off-season, and Mike and I have been friends for a long time,” said Millican, who is also after his first NHRA win in Epping. “Pretty much everything about what I do in the race car I learned from him. He’s taught me so much. It’s just really, really fun and it’s great working with him again. The guys working on the car have just been unbelievable. I think we’re further ahead than I thought we would be.”
Todd picked up his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and 12th in his career thanks to his run of 4.022 seconds at 317.34 mph on Friday in his DHL Toyota Camry. Bob Tasca III, who is racing at his home track and coming off of back-to-back Funny Car wins, qualified second with a 4.035-second pass at 318.17 mph. Ron Capps, a two-time winner in Epping, is third, while points leader Robert Hight qualified fourth.
Todd, who picked up his third No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car, will try to win at New England Dragway for the first time. His top run also marked the first No. 1 qualifier for Kalitta Motorsports in Funny Car at the facility.
“It just gives everybody a little pep in their step, but at the end of the day we want wins,” said Todd. “The No. 1 qualifier is good and all, but you don’t get points and trophies for that. It would be big to get a win here, and any win you can get on the tour is special. We want to start the second half of the season off on the right foot.”