Courtney Force and Clay Millican upset the odds to claim the No. 8 positions in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout following special lottery drawings held today during a press conference in downtown Indianapolis to preview the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race.
Force, who was runner-up at Norwalk earlier this season, earned the second most fan votes in her category with 42 percent, just behind leading vote getter Alexis DeJoria at 43 percent, and will face the top seed in Funny Car, Jack Beckman, in the first-round pairing of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout.
“It’s really nerve wracking to stand up here,” said Force who is only one of three Funny Car drivers who has appeared in every Traxxas Nitro Shootout. “It’s great to be in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for my team and my sponsor. We’re excited to get this spot and make the fans who voted for us proud and go get this win.”
Veteran driver Millican upset fan vote winner Brittany Force to claim the final spot in Top Fuel. Millican, who took second place in the fan vote with 24 percent, will meet top seed Tony Schumacher in the first round of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel. Millican will be racing in honor of his son Dalton who passed away last month.
“How about that, my little man upstairs may have helped get that ball in there for me,” said Millican, who will be appearing in his first Traxxas Nitro Shootout. “I am pretty excited and appreciate everyone at Traxxas for putting on this race. It’s always fun racing Tony so I am looking forward to it.”
The two drivers selected today was the culmination of a process that started on Aug. 23. All drivers in both categories who had competed in each race this season but were not a part of the seven qualified drivers for each Traxxas Nitro Shootout were eligible for the fan vote/lottery. Fan voting took place on NHRA’s Facebook page and lasted until Sept 1. The fan voting determined how many lottery balls would be assigned to each driver for the drawing. Force finished second in fan voting behind DeJoria (43%). The pair were followed by Del Worsham (10%), Cruz Pedregon (2%), John Hale (1%), Chad Head (1%) and Tony Pedregon (1%). Top Fuel’s Millican was second to Force (57%) and the pair were followed in the fan vote by Larry Dixon (11%), Dave Connolly (4%) and Terry McMillen (4%).
The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be contested during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Sept. 2-7, at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be held Saturday Sept. 5, with rounds at 4, 5:25 and 7:45 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car will be contested Sunday, Sept. 6, with rounds at 12:30, 1:55 and 4:15 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be covered by ESPN2.
In the other first round pairings in Top Fuel, Charlotte 1 winner Antron Brown will face Seattle winner J.R. Todd, Las Vegas winner Richie Crampton will meet Denver winner Steve Torrence and Houston winner Doug Kalitta will face Winternationals winner Shawn Langdon.
In the three other Funny Car first round pairings, Winternationals winner Robert Hight will meet Brainerd winner Robert Hight, Chicago winner Tommy Johnson Jr. will face Atlanta winner Tim Wilkerson and Las Vegas winner John Force will race Gainesville winner Ron Capps.
Tony Schumacher is the defending Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner in Top Fuel and John Force is the defending Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner in Funny Car. Below are the drivers who have qualified for the Traxxas Nitro Shooutouts and their first-round pairings for the lucrative bonus races which will award the winning drivers $100,000 each.
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (TOP FUEL)
Saturday, September 5th
FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS (4 p.m.):
- Tony Schumacher vs. No. 8 Clay Millican
- Antron Brown vs. No. 7 J.R. Todd
- Richie Crampton vs. No. 6 Steve Torrence
- Doug Kalitta vs. No. 5 Shawn Langdon
SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS (5:25 p.m.):
Schumacher-Millican winner vs. Kalitta-Langdon winner
Brown-Todd winner vs. Crampton-Torrence winner
FINAL (7:45 p.m.)
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (FUNNY CAR)
FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS (12:30 p.m.):
- Jack Beckman vs. No. 8 Courtney Force
- Matt Hagan vs. No. 7 Robert Hight
- Tommy Johnson Jr. vs. No. 6 Tim Wilkerson
- John Force. vs. No. 5 Ron Capps
SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS (1:55 p.m.):
Beckman-C. Force winner vs. J. Force-Capps winner
Hagan-Hight winner vs. Johnson Jr.-Wilkerson winner
FINAL (4:15 p.m.)
Source: NHRA • Photos: Brian Groce