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Clay Millican and Bob Tasca III earn top qualifying spots at Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals

Qualifying is complete at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis with Clay Millican and Bob Tasca III as the low qualifiers in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively.
18 Jul 2020
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returned to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis for a second-straight week where Clay Millican powered to the Top Fuel qualifying lead at the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals. Bob Tasca III also nailed down the top spot after two rounds of Funny Car qualifying.

Millican leads the Top Fuel field after a run of 3.829-seconds in his Mike Kloeber-tuned Parts Plus dragster. Millican smoked the tires on his second attempt Saturday afternoon, but his earlier performance was strong enough to fend off all challengers. The event marked the 24th time that the popular pro has topped and NHRA Top Fuel field in his career and the first time since last year’s Sonoma event.

“it’s just awesome after the long break. We were No. 1 last week but we didn’t get a chance to maintain it," said Millican. "To maintain it today is really cool. We didn’t make a good run right there. They had a leak in the clutch can and I don’t know if that maybe made me shake the tires. It doesn’t matter. Part Plus is number one baby.”

Leah Pruett qualified for both the Top Fuel and Factory Stock fields with her Mopar dragster landing in the second spot with a 3.850 best while Shawn Landon and Antron Brown are also solidly in the show with runs of 3.855 and 3.856 respectively. Billy Torrence, the winner of last week’s E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, finished in the No. 10 spot and as a result, he’ll have to race his son, two-time world champ Steve, in Sunday’s opening round. The Indy field will not include Cory McClenathan, who smoked the tires on both qualifying runs. McClenathan tried desperately to pedal his Nordic Boats dragster during Sunday’s second run, but his 4.802 run missed the bump spot.

Bob Tasca III missed last weekend’s event while recovering from a case of COVID-19 but showed no ill effects by driving his Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford to an impressive 3.991 in Q2 to steal the top spot from Tommy Johnson Jr. Tasca was not qualified when he staged for his second attempt, but crew chief Mike Neff maintained an aggressive approach that resulted in the only three-second Funny Car run of the day. This is the fifth time that Tasca has qualified No. 1 and his first pole since last year’s Seattle event.

“Welcome back to NHRA Drag Racing," Tasca said. "I’ll tell you, being No. 17 going into that last session but I just have so much confidence in [crew chief] Mike Neff and Jon Schaffer. You just don’t want to screw it up. Once it went past half-track that thing was singing.”

Johnson, a finalist at last weekend’s race, held on to the No. 2 spot with a 4.01 while Tim Wilkerson was perhaps the day’s most consistent racer with runs of 4.034 and 4.043 from his Levi, Ray, and Shoup Mustang. There was also plenty of drama down the ladder as last week’s winner, Matt Hagan, needed a Hail Mary run to make the field. Outside the top 16 when he staged for his final qualifying run, Hagan managed a 4.274 in his Mopar Charger Hellcat, which is adorned in a special paint scheme this weekend. Hagan’s reward is a round-one match-up with teammate Ron Capps.

Former series champion Khalid alBalooshi debuted the new ProCharger engine combination in Indy, and the results were spectacular with a 5.814 that paced the quick field. alBalooshi also made the quickest run of the second session with a 5.834 to maintain his hold on the top spot. The former Top Fuel driver will be paired with Justin Jones in Sunday’s opening round. Jeffrey Barker, the winner of the inaugural Top Sportsman world championship, landed in the No. 2 spot after a 5.838 best and Clint Satterfield is third-quickest with a 5.845.

Fully recovered from injuries suffered in an on-track accident at last year’s U.S. Nationals, Chad Green made an impressive return by qualifying for both the Funny Car and Pro Mod fields at the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals. Green wheeled his nitrous Corvette to a best of 5.815 to land in the top half of the Pro Mod field.

Qualifying for the SAM Tech.edu Factory Stock Showdown provided plenty of drama as 24 racers jockeyed to make the 16-car field. Engine builder and former Motor Pro Stock driver Chris Holbrook led a blue oval sweep of the top three spots with a 7.919 in his Varsity Ford Cobra Jet Mustang, followed by Bill Skillman with a 7.940 and reigning series champ Drew Skillman with a 7.976. The quickest Chevy COPO Camaro belonged to Pro Stock racer Aaron Stanfield, who drove to a 7.982. Former champ Leah Pruett put her Dodge Challenger Drag Pak into the show on the bump spot with an 8.146.

In the Mickey Thompson Top Fuel Harley class, Chris Smith led the field after Q1 with a 6.527 at just 176.28 mph indicating an early shut-off, but that run survived Saturday’s second session to hold the top spot. Smith held off a charge by Ricky House, who was second-best with a 6.571 and Randal Andres, who also made his best run of the day in Q2 with a 6.739.