The closest battle for spots remaining in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship is in the Top Fuel division, where just three points separate the two drivers battling for the 10th and final spot in the Countdown: Bob Vandergriff, who currently holds onto 10th (664 points), and Clay Millican, sitting three points back in 11th (661 points). The spot will be decided at this weekend’s final “regular season” event, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto Plus, Wednesday through Monday, August 29th through September 3rd at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
Vandergriff doesn’t want to feel the same disappointment he felt last year, when he won a race during the “playoffs,” but wasn’t in the running. “…we have struggled and we tried things, changed things; and almost feel like right now that guy running the marathon, trying to run the last mile with a pulled hamstring, just struggling to get to finish line,” said Vandergriff in a recent NHRA teleconference. “We have not got it done, and it’s been right there in front of us. If we would have just ran what we are capable of doing, we would not even be on the phone call today. But we have put ourselves in this place. Disappointing for our team. But…we feel like we are driving the train. We are making our own breaks here. Clay can’t catch us if we win rounds, and so I mean, that’s a good position for us to be in. Once we get in this Countdown, we get a second life for our season, and that’s kind of what we are hoping for.”
Millican, of course, has a similar outlook, just with a different ending. “Like Bob, we put ourselves in this position,” said Millican. “We went through that stretch where we were having motor problems and we were putting oil all over the racetrack. I mean, that’s bad for us, bad for our bank account and it was a big hit to our points. It’s also bad for the fans because we slowed down the show. But since then, the last few races, we kind of got that fixed but at the same time, we somewhat lost our performance. We were racking off some of those semifinal finishes and then we went to chasing the motor problem and seemed to have put ourselves behind as far as how the car runs and you know, there’s certainly not a more fierce competitor out there, believe me, than Bob is. He and I have fun off the racetrack, and we are both pretty dang serious about it when we put our helmet on, that’s for sure. He’s fun to race with. He does not mess around up there. It’s kind of in our own hands. If Bob goes rounds, we have no choice but to go rounds.”
Keep up-to-date with the NHRA and the U.S. Nationals at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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