Clay Millican Racing

After Close Finish in Gainesville, Clay Millican Is Ready for Las Vegas

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Clay Millican’s oh-so-close second-place finish in Gainesville was not a win. However, if you ask Millican, it was just the beginning. He heads into Las Vegas April 5th looking to take over.

Millican and Co. are heading into the 20th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals hungry for their first win. After placing outside of the top five in the first two events of the season, Millican finished .008 seconds away from a win at the Gatornationals.

Fuel for the fire

That close finish has only fueled one the NHRA’s most popular drivers. In an excellent interview and write-up in SpeedSport, Millican spoke about the confidence he has in his team heading to The Strip.

“We made six straight competitive runs from Saturday through the final round, and that was huge,” said Millican. “Mike was able to get a handle on what the car wants and needs. That let us know as a group we can be thrown into the fire and get it done. They got through the fire together and it gives us confidence we can do this as a group.”

Vegas Magic?

Millican also believes that Las Vegas presents some unique advantages for him. As a former bracket racer, Millican is well-acquainted with the event’s four-wide format.

While many drivers might be a little intimidated by the different format and enormous crowds Vegas has to offer, Millican welcomes them as both a challenge and motivation.

“I’m a bracket racer at heart,” said Millican. “I love the race and I love the huge crowds at an event like that. It’s way more fun to show out in front of a packed house and last year was a packed house. We just have to maintain consistency going down the track. If we do that, we’ll turn win lights on. If we can maintain consistency, that consistency will get us wins.”

Early Questions

After finishing outside of the top five in the first two events of the season, some may have been questioning the decision to bring in new crew chief Mike Kloeber. Prior to this season, Kloeber last worked in the NHRA in 2014. Some may have wondered if his extended absence had taken a toll.

Clay Millican, however, was not one of those people.

“I knew it was going to be okay,” said the Drummonds, Tennessee native. “There were plenty of naysayers to hiring a guy who has been out of it a while, but we were confident. There was no question in our mind in our mind Mike was going to be able to get this going.”

The second-place finish in Gainesville may have been frustratingly close to victory in that moment. But for Millican, it’s just been the appetizer that has stoked his appetite for his first win of the season. A win he will look for in Vegas.

“Going to the finals doesn’t change anything,” said Millican. We want to keep winning rounds.”

Clay Millican Deserves a Bigger Spotlight; This Season He May Get One

This year’s third-place finisher in the NHRA Clay Millican is known around the racing world for two things: peeling the pavement with record-setting runs and his infectiously positive attitude.

Within the world of racing, Millican is an absolute fan favorite. It’s easy to see why.

 

“Stomp That Loud Pedal”

In many ways, he embodies the spirit of the fun-loving and family-friendly spirit of the NHRA. On the track, Millican is fearless.

His catch phrase, “stomp on that loud pedal” truly captures his strategy. Punch it hard, drive as fast as possible. No need to complicate things.

His car stays tuned wide open. Sometimes so much that it bursts into flames.

Millican’s aggressive approach to Top Fuel racing is everything a fan could want: a bit cowboy, a bit reckless, and absolutely thrilling to witness.

Off the track, Clay is almost the polar opposite; a humble, neighborly husband and father who is just happy to be living the dream.

“Down to earth” doesn’t even begin to describe Millican. He went from driving a forklift to being perhaps the most dominant driver in IHRA history. Even after winning six out of seven IHRA championships and several events in his NHRA career, he lives a relatively quiet life in the town he grew up in.

Millican spends a great deal of his down time doing charity work and teaching road safety and driving courses. He takes time to respond to fans on Twitter.

In short, Millican is everything we want our sports heroes to be.

 

A Growing Sport

The Drummonds, Tennessee native and his team have stayed busy in the off-season. While his easy-going nature and Southern gentleman manners may prevent him from saying it out loud, there is only one goal for the 2019 season: an NHRA Championship.

Winning the championship this year could propel Millican to a new level of stardom.

Clay’s rise to prominence coincides with steady growth in the sport’s popularity. After moving from FS1 to FOX, the NHRA more than doubled its viewership on the year.

FOX’s Spanish-language sports channel FOX Deportes even broadcast several races last season, with plans to broadcast more this season.

 

Face of the Franchise?

Nothing helps a sport boom in popularity like a star athlete. In Clay Millican, the NHRA has one in the making.

Millican’s story is almost too incredible to be true. For the unfamiliar, here’s the short version:

While working as a forklift driver for Kroger, Millican competed in the IHRA. He was noticed by investor Peter Lehman who asked him to drive his Top Fuel Car.

Soon after, Millican took the IHRA by storm and won six championships in seven years. Following this success, he moved over to the NHRA.

Then, in 2015 tragedy struck as Millican’s son Dalton passed away in a motorcycle accident at the age of 22.

That tragedy, however, gave way to triumph two years later. In a moment that seemed made for TV, Millican won his first ever NHRA event on none other than Father’s Day.

Since then, Millican has been on an absolute tear. He’s set track records, won two more events, and was within striking distance of 2018 champion Steve Torrence all season.

As the NHRA looks to expand its reach even further this season, it would be smart to turn the spotlight to Millican and his infectious smile.

At a time when even sports divides people, Clay Millican is someone we can all root for.

Paul Lee Defies The Odds to Return to The NHRA

Much of the NHRA world was pretty certain Paul Lee’s racing career was over in December of 2016. After the Funny Car driver suffered a major heart attack two years ago, he announced his retirement from the sport.

Now, after two years of intense rehabilitation and physical training, Paul Lee has defied all odds and returned to drag racing.

 

Lee Signs With SSG

Earlier this month, it was announced that Lee signed with the newly-formed Straightline Strategy Group. The organization is headed up by Doug Stringer, Scott Gardner and other partners. It’s the same organization that’s behind Clay Millican’s Parts Plus/Strutmasters Top Fuel racer.

“I’m excited to join SSG and getting back doing what I love most, driving and competing in the McLeod Racing Nitro Funny Car in NHRA,” Lee said. “After two years of hard work recovering from my heart attack, I can hardly believe I get to go race again. Driving a Nitro Funny Car has been my lifelong passion.”

 

The Birth of the “Super Team”

Lee’s incredible return is one of many stories surrounding the organization. SSG has made several high profile moves over the last two months gearing up for 2019’s racing season.

The new “Super Team” of the NHRA is considered among the sport’s most exciting collectives heading into the new year.

“I’m also looking forward to teaming with Clay Millican. To working with my buddy Jim Oberhofer. And I’m excited to work with the entire SSG organization,” said Lee. “SSG will be a powerhouse team now and into the future in NHRA Professional Drag Racing.”

 

What to Look for in 2019

Paul Lee’s return to the sport will be a hot topic throughout the 2019 season. The driver has enjoyed a warm welcome back from fans and racers alike on social media.

All eyes will be on Clay Millican and his team. The group has gone all-in on finding a winning formula, reuniting Millican with crew chief Mike Kloeber. The pair won six IHRA titles in seven seasons together.

The team also brought in tuner Jim “Jim O” Oberhafer as part of its expansion and overhaul. Oberhafer will start the season with Millican before moving over to Lee’s car full-time.

Next season is set to be an aspirational one for the team at SSG. But if the aggressive moves and acquistions in this off-season are any indication, 2019 could be just the beginning.

Oberhofer Joins Millican & Co. at Straightline Strategy Group

The wheels keep turning for Clay Millican and the Straightline Strategy Group over this NHRA offseason. It was announced earlier this week that veteran tuner Jim Oberhofer would be joining the Straightline Strategy Group. SSG is the racing team which owns Millican’s Parts Plus/Strutmasters Top Fuel car.

Before moving over to SSG, Oberhafer most recently worked on Kebin Kinsley’s Top Fuel dragster. Before that, he spent spending several years as the head tuner for Doug Kalitta’s car.

Oberhofer will start off the season working with new crew chief Mike Kloeber on Millican’s car. He will then move over to serve a full-time position on Paul Lee’s Funny Car, also owned by SSG.

 

Paul Lee’s Big Comeback

Racing fans, along with friends and family, will be happy to see Lee behind the wheel. He has spent the last two years rehabbing from a massive heart attack and a surgery that required three stents to be placed in his main artery. He had previously retired following the ordeal.

“I am excited to join SSG and getting back doing what I love most, driving and competing in the McLeod Racing Nitro Funny Car in NHRA,” said Lee. “After two years of hard work recovering from my heart attack, I can hardly believe I get to go race again. Driving a Nitro Funny Car has been my lifelong passion. I’m also looking forward to teaming with Clay Millican, working with my buddy Jim-O, and excited to work with the entire SSG organization. SSG will be a powerhouse team now and into the future.”

 

More Moves for Straightline Strategy Group

The moves to bring in Lee and Oberhofer are part of a larger strategy by SSG to diversify their racing outfit. The company also brought three other drag racers on board as part of the plan: Matt Hartford, who celebrated his first Pro Stock national event win during the 2018 season, No-Prep Kings/Street Outlaw driver Jeff Lutz, and Harley-Davidson racer Janette Thornley.

Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales Steven Cole, who is also new to the SSG team after spending time with John Force Racing, is optimistic about the aggressive moves the company is making.

“Simply put, there is strength in diversity and numbers as it concerns marketing partners,” said Cole. “We can bring expanded exposure opportunities through multiple major platforms [classes] in drag racing that will no doubt prove beneficial for sponsors.”

 

The off-season moves reflect a big push for the company behind Millican, who finished third overall in the NHRA Top Fuel series this season. It is clear that next year’s goal is nothing short of a national racing title.

IHRA Legend: A Look Back at Clay Millican’s Amazing Run

Clay Millican had a breakout season this year in the NHRA. Finishing third overall, he was the only real threat to winner Steve Torrence for most of the season.

He won two events and broke several records along the way. It was a memorable season for Clay and for fans of the sport.

While his stock is rising in the NHRA, Clay was absolutely unstoppable in the International Hot Rod Association, or IHRA.



The Legend of “Six-Time”


NHRA fans know Millican as the down-to-earth fan favorite, a lovable southern gentleman with a huge heart and a heavy foot.

At the end of his tenure in the IHRA, Millican was known by the nickname “Six-Time” to his friends and family. That comes from winning six IHRA championships.

Six championships is impressive enough. However, Millican won those six championships in just seven seasons.

 

 

More Than Just IHRA Championships


Here’s another mind-blowing fact about Millican’s incredible IHRA run:

From his first full season as a Top Fuel driver in 2000 to his last IHRA season in 2006, Millican never finished worse than second in points.

Add to that 51 national event wins and countless world records, and it’s easy to see why many consider Clay Millican the greatest IHRA driver of all time.

 



Memorable Moments in IHRA History


In addition to being a bona fide winner, Millican often wowed fans with impossibly quick passes.

One of the most memorable was in Rockingham, North Carolina at the World Finals in 2005. Clay Millican laid down one of the fastest laps a Top Fuel Dragster has ever recorded, an almost unbelievable 4.484 seconds.

 

“Every time we went to Rockingham it was just something about that track and our team that just clicked,” Millican said at the time. “The weekend That we ran the 4.48 that was the Werner Enterprises car and that was one bad hot rod. We had the championship locked up and we were just going for it. We just wanted to see what we could get away with.”



Looking Ahead


These days, Millican is working on recapturing his IHRA glory. In a much-publicized move, the Stringer Performance team replaced Crew Chief David Grubnic with Mike Kloeber. Kloeber was Millican’s crew chief during his incredible IHRA run.

While not content to rest on his laurels, Millican has fond and proud memories of his International Hot Rod Association days.

“The money from winning those things is long gone now, but those trophies are the very first thing you see when you walk into our race shop. In the end the trophies mean much more than the money ever could,” Millican said. “The ability to say that I have won six world Championships is something no one can take away from me. I am very proud of that fact and everything that I accomplished during the incredible years I spent racing with the IHRA.”

The Top 5 Moments From Clay Millican’s Incredible 2018 NHRA Season

Clay Millican finished third in the 2018 NHRA Top Fuel season, his best season to date in the NHRA. Always a fan favorite, Millican provided racing fans with some of the most exciting and emotional moments of 2018.

Let’s take a look back at Clay Millican’s top five moments from the 2018 NHRA Top Fuel season.


5. Clay pulls out the win after his engine explodes in Charlotte

 

After jumping out ahead in a Carolina Nationals Qualifier in Charlotte, Clay’s engine burst into flames. Millican would maintain his cool despite his car being on fire and won the round. He thankfully walked away unscathed.

 

4. Clay explodes off the line to clinch his second career event in Topeka

 

Clay won the second national event title of his career after he gunned his Strutmasters/Great Clips car to a 3.727 at 332.59 MPH pass, beating Terry McMillen in the finals.

 

 

3. Clay sets a new track record in Atlanta

 

Millican set a new track speed record of 331.12 mph during the second round of qualifying in the Southern Nationals.

“To go 331 mph in Atlanta is pretty cool,” said Millican, at the time. “The car is the quickest in the world and I’m proud of that.

 

2. Clay makes the quickest pass in NHRA history

 

It didn’t take long for Clay to put the NHRA on notice in 2018. During the Lucas Oil Winternationals, the first race of the 2018 season, Millican set a Top Fuel national time record of 3.628 seconds at 322.04 mph.


“I knew it was a special run at the 330-foot mark,” said Millican. “And I even shut the car off a bit early so we know we can improve upon those numbers at some point.”

 

 

1. Clay picks up the win on the 20th anniversary of his first race

 

Clay Millican picked up his second win of the season and third of his career at the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. But the race had more significance than just being part of back-to-back wins for Millican and the Stringer Performance racing team.

The race came on the 20th anniversary of the track’s first NHRA event which, coincidentally was Clay Millican’s first racing event. Millican didn’t fare nearly as well in the 1998 event, earning a DNQ.

“This place is really special,” said Millican. “I was the very first car to pull out on this facility. It’s such a crazy, crazy thing to win here 20 years later.”

 

All in all it was an amazing season for Millican and for NHRA fans across the country. With the Stringer Performance team already making some changes for next season, it’s looking like 2019 might be just as exciting, if not more.

After His Best Year Yet, Clay Millican is Gunning for the Top in 2019

In the shadows of Steve Torrence’s historic 2018 season, it’s easy to overlook the incredible season that Clay Millican had this year.

The Tennessee native fan favorite won two races and was the only racer within sniffing distance of Torrence for much of 2018. He survived a series of fires and explosions and pulled off some dramatic trial wins.

But by the looks of things over at Stringer Performance, Clay and his team are just getting started.

 

Millican’s Championship Reunion

 

Last week it was announced that Stringer Performance was replacing tuner David Grubnic with Mike Kloeber, despite the success of Millican’s 2018 run. This left the question as to why.

 

To answer that, one needs to look back into Clay Millican racing history just a bit.


Before ascending the ranks in NHRA Top Fuel, Clay Millican won six IHRA championships in just seven seasons. His crew chief? Mike Kloeber.


 

Excited for the Future



Despite the close of the 2018 season coming just a few days ago, Stringer Performance owner Doug Stringer is already looking ahead towards the future.

“We’re excited for what the future holds for us,” Stringer said. “There’s a long relationship between Mike [Kloeber] and Clay, so there’s a huge comfort level there. Mike’s got some unfinished business out here, as does Clay.”

As for the swirling questions around Grubnic’s departure and Kloeber’s arrival, Stringer has a no-nonsense answer.

“People say, ‘Wow, they’re changing crew chiefs, their direction.’ Yes, people are moving on and people are moving in, but our direction is to win the championship next year.”

 

Championship Vision



It’s clear that there is one goal for the 2019 NHRA season for Clay and Stringer Performance: winning the National Championship.

New crew chief Kloeber spoke about his move to Stringer earlier last week.

 

“Getting a call from Doug Stringer with the opportunity to race with this team provides a path to conclude some unfinished business for us all — winning a NHRA Mello Yello Championship,” he said.

Kloeber describes all the pieces that he hopes will come together to create a winning formula for 2019.

“With the addition of partners Scott Gardner and J.J. Koehler to the team, along with Doug, who I also share a history with, my motivation couldn’t be any higher. Their expertise and additional resources position the program for exceptional growth and performance.”


As proud sponsors of Stringer Performance racing and Clay Millican, we here at Strutmasters couldn’t be more ready for February 7th when the 2019 NHRA season kicks off at the Lucas Oil Winternationals.

Clay Millican and Crew Chief Mike Kloeber Back Together for 2019 Season

As the 2018 NHRA Top Fuel season comes to a close, the Stringer Performance Racing team and Clay Millican have already begun looking to the future.

The team has decided to reunite Millican with crew chief Mike Kloeber for the 2019 season. Kloeber and Millican worked together in the IHRA and built an impressive record together. The duo won six world championships and 50 events in just seven years.

That’s the kind of success Straightline Strategy Group, the ownership group behind the Parts Plus Top Fuel Dragster driven by Clay Millican, hopes will translate to the NHRA.

 

Millican and Kloeber Have Their Eyes on the Prize


Kloeber says that his own expectations for next season are sky high:

“Getting a call from Doug Stringer with the opportunity to race with this team provides a path to conclude some unfinished business for us all — winning a NHRA Mello Yello Championship,” said Kloeber.

Millican enters the final weekend of the season in second place, having notched two wins in 2018. He is fully aware of the implications of bringing a winning formula back together.

“I’m excited to go back and work with Mike again,” said Millican. “We have a lot of history together and are looking to make more.”

 

The Bigger Picture

 

Doug Stringer, owner of Stringer Performance, sees the hiring of Kloeber as part of the bigger picture for the racing outfit, which includes Strutmasters.com as one of its proud sponsors.

“Sometimes life comes full circle, and we believe our company’s strong ties to faith and family along with an agenda built on trust, passion, and desire with the ability to weather storms brought this opportunity together,” said Stringer. “Mike and Clay have had tremendous success in the past, and Mike fully embraces our team’s platform and goals.”

 

One Final Weekend

Catch Clay in action for the last time in 2018 this weekend at the Auto Club NHRA Finals! Click here for the TV schedule.

Clay Speaks About the NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” Format

Clay Millican is no stranger to championship level racing. The fan favorite won six IHRA titles before moving over to the NHRA as part of the Stringer Performance racing team, sponsored by Strutmasters.

“The biggest difference [between the IHRA and the NHRA],” said Millican, “was the IHRA were season-long runs, where we got on a roll. The (NHRA) Countdown changes all that, because under the old format Stevie (Torrence) would already be the champion. Those guys have won 40 or 50 races this year, or it seems like…he just keeps winning! This gives us another chance.”

Torrance, who has won seven national events this season, is currently sitting in first place heading into the championships. He has already put himself out in front of the pack by winning not only leading the “regular season” in points but also in winning the first three Countdown to the Championship playoff races. Millican finished second overall in points during the 2018 “regular season.”

Millican lead all four qualifying sessions this weekend and claiming 11 bonus points before falling just short in Sunday’s final eliminations at  the 33rd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals. But Clay being Clay, he’s not at all phased by the uphill battle in front of him.

 

“This is the ultimate playoffs for the fans,” said Clay with the infectious enthusiasm that has come to define him, “with the cars running like that in this kind of heat and humidity. It’s awesome.”

A three-time winner this season, Millican has had one of his best seasons of racing in his career. While an NHRA Championship is the ultimate goal, there has certainly been lots to celebrate and build on during the 2018 season.

Strutmasters is very proud sponsor of Clay Millican and the Stringer Performance racing team.