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.”
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.”
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.”