Clay Millican Reveals Plans For 2015 With New Owner And Crew Chief

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Photo coutresy Clay Millican/Twitter

Clay Millican, driver of the newly formed Stringer Performance Top Fuel team with marketing partnerships from Parts Plus, Great Clips, and Weld, seldom is caught without his trademark ear-to-ear grin.

Today he says, “It’s hard to not be smiling about what’s fixing to happen here.”

With a core group he calls “energetic” and “ready to go,” Millican is shooting for a preseason appearance at the PRO Winter Warm-up in mid-January at Jupiter, Fla., if his team has received sufficient parts by then.

The guy is super-smart, looks at everything about how to make the car go quicker and faster. He’s definitely a sharp guy, and he has a good plan of what he wants to do. I do think this car is going to run really, really good.

Lance Larsen will handle day-to-day operations, and crew chief Dave Grubnic will visit the McLeansboro, Ill., shop midway between Indianapolis and St. Louis as needed in his tuning debut.

Kalitta Motorsports Vice-President Jim Oberhofer has trumpeted Grubnic’s mechanical skills, and Grubnic’s consulting played a key role in Dom Lagana’s Indianapolis performance for Rapisarda Autosport International. Lagana qualified eighth in his first start at the Labor Day classic and defeated Doug Kalitta in the opening round.

DSC_8700-copyNow Grubnic has a turnkey Brad Hadman-built dragster via Steve Torrence at his fingertips. And Millican said, “I’m super excited about it. I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with him and spent a couple days with him at the PRI Show. The guy is super-smart, looks at everything about how to make the car go quicker and faster. He’s definitely a sharp guy, and he has a good plan of what he wants to do. I do think this car is going to run really, really good.”

Millican said the Torrence Racing organization “was absolutely wonderful to work with.” The car is essentially a brand-new car, with about 20 runs on the chassis. The Torrence team assembled it in the past month or so. “It’s a really nice piece,” Millican, who’s extremely familiar with Hadman’s handiwork, said after having the car fitted for himself, including a custom-molded seat.”

Team owner Doug Stringer and Millican have known each other since Stringer’s involvement with Jim Epler and Dean Skuza in their Funny Car heydays. Stringer became involved in NASCAR and sprint-car racing but returned to the straightline sport when Dexter Tuttle told Millican late into the 2014 season that he wasn’t planning to race fulltime in 2015.

“Doug and I have tried to figure out how to do this for the last four or five years, but the timing was never right,” Millican said. He called Stringer after learning Tuttle’s news. “We started looking at it. So something that I’ve been working on for four or five years actually really came together quick.

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Photo courtesy Clay Millican/Twitter

“Parts Plus wants to continue drag racing because it works for them. Lucky for me, I have the makings of a great team being put together right now,” Millican said.

After stints with Tuttle and before that Bob Vandergriff, Mark Pickens, and Kenny Koretsky, Millican said he feels like he has a long-term home now. “I really do, with Parts Plus staying with me and the addition of Great Clips,” he said. “We do have a lot of work to be done, but it’s fun work, because we know we’re going to have a good race team.”

About the author

Susan Wade

Celebrating her 45th year in sports journalism, Susan Wade has emerged as one of the leading drag-racing writers with 20 seasons at the racetrack. She was the first non-NASCAR recipient of the prestigious Russ Catlin Award and has covered the sport for the Chicago Tribune, Newark Star-Ledger, St. Petersburg Times, and Seattle Times. Growing up in Indianapolis, motorsports is part of her DNA. She contributes to Power Automedia as a freelancer writer.
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