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Words and photos by Ian Tocher

Both defending Top Fuel champ Clay Millican and Alcohol Funny Car driver Jimmy Rector extended their perfect records in 2002 by earning their fourth Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Series titles in a row on June 1, at the rain-postponed ACDelco Nationals presented by Chevrolet. Joining Millican and Rector in the Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP) winner's circle were Fred Hahn in Pro Mod, Steve Stordeur in Nitro Harley, and Pro Stock rookie Jeff Dobbins, who won his first national event.

Top Fuel winner Clay Millican set top speed of the meet at 316.15 mph in his 4.798-second win over a tire-smoking Bruce Litton in the final.

By noon, track temperatures were already pushing 130 degrees and in his morning time trial, Millican blew the tires off his Werner Enterprises ride on the hot, slick VMP surface. Crew chief Mike Kloeber used the data gained, however, to tune Millican to quicker and faster passes in each round as he beat Don Reed, Josh Starcher, and number-one qualifier Bruce Litton in the final.

"We hadn't run this tire in conditions anything like this before," Kloeber said. "I probably could have gone after it a little harder, but it was more important just to make sure it went down the track."

With the win, team owner Peter Lehman said, only the new strip near Toronto is not yet on Millican's winning resume. He has now tasted victory at all the IHRA tracks he's run on and that are still in the schedule.


Everything fell into place -- again -- for Holbrook Performance's Jimmy Rector at VMP. From the number-two qualifying slot he dusted off Ronnie Midyette in the first round, edged Laurie Cannister in round two, and beat defending class champion Mark Thomas for the third time this year. That set up a final round pairing with number-two points man Dale Brand, who raced through Bobby Martindale, Monty Todd, and Mark Comella.

"That was probably the toughest four competitors we've ever had to face in one day," Rector said. "They really made us work for that one."

He had to work to the end, as Brand actually left first with a .434 light in the final, but Rector ran an almost perfect 5.935 at 237.34 mph while Brand's engine broke a belt about the halfway point and he coasted through at 7.926/113.94.

Despite the heat, Jimmy Rector was able to run with consistency all day, going 5.936/235.56; 5.926/235.35; 5.959/233.88; and 5.935/237.34 in eliminations.


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