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Parts Plus Driver Clay Millican Clinches Countdown Berth with Strong Semi-Final Run at Seattle

by Network Staff

Posted on August 7, 2017

Wrapping up the conclusion of the NHRA’s annual summer tour of the West Coast, the Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel driver Clay Millican proved his team was back in the swing of things, displaying the kind of consistency the crew has been driving toward in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Series.

Millican overcame a rough start Friday night at the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways to reach the semifinals on Sunday after earning a huge victory over Brittany Force in the quarterfinals. Perhaps most important, Millican’s hard-earned win light in Sunday’s E1 clinched the Parts Plus/Great Clips team’s spot in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.

“Anytime you can punch your ticket to the dance a little early, that’s a good thing,” Millican says. “But that’s only one of this team’s objectives. We’ve got a lot of racing left, and a lot more stuff we want to do.”

No one could have suspected at the end of Friday’s qualifying session that the Parts Plus/Great Clips crew was on the verge of getting back on track following last week’s not-so-grape performance in Sonoma’s wine country. While usually the driver equivalent of a baseball power hitter when he first steps up to the plate in qualifying, Millican instead struck out in the “homerun derby,” going for 0 for Q1/Q2. A setback but not a major league deal.

“This team has been so good this year that we’re not used to being on the outside looking in heading into Saturday,” Millican says. “Realistically, you almost can’t call this a ‘young’ team anymore. These guys have worked hard, matured, gelled, and overcome a lot of obstacles over the last two years, so there’s not a heck of a lot that rattles these guys anymore. Now certainly, there have been some more demands on our time since winning our first Wally; our solution to that is simple: go out there and win a lot more, so we get used to seeing all this attention. Seriously, at the end of Friday, we didn’t panic; we still believed in what we were doing.”

That’s in large part to the team’s unwavering confidence in crew chief David Grubnic, who made some adjustments to get the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster on the board when qualifying resumed in Q3.

“Grubby looked at a few things on the car overnight; we all had confidence he’d figured it out,” Millican says. “I believe we all sensed ‘Grubby’ was feeling pretty good Saturday morning, and this team just feeds off his positive attitude and competitiveness,” says Millican, who’s known to be quite a competitor both on the track and on the golf course. (It’s not surprising those two sports naturally require an excellent driver and powerful drives right down the middle.)

Tuned back a bit but ready to go, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster lined up in Q3 against the man in the sport whose name most sounds like a ’50s screen idol (or maybe a professional wrestler), part-time driver Troy Buff. But it was Millican who showed Buff who had the right stuff, as the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster launched tenaciously, soaring like an osprey (the host city’s “seahawk”) toward a good spot in the field with a solid 3.855@317.12 mph.

Millican’s Q3 incremental times: 60ft-0.854 sec.; 330ft-2.170; and 660ft-3.091/275.79 mph. Buff’s star didn’t shine on this day, as his car began dropping cylinders around the 1/8th mile mark.

Meanwhile, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster was just getting warmed up in the proverbial batter’s box. With qualifying assured, Millican was back in slugger mode, preparing to knock it out of the park. Like a Rawlings baseball cracking off a bat, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster shot down the track, running an all-star 3.766@318.39.

That turned out to be Millican’s MVP (most valuable pass) of the weekend thus far, as it accomplished one of the team’s ongoing goals each race weekend: a top-5 qualifying spot. Millican’s big-league Q4 incremental times: 60ft-0.834 sec.; 330ft-2.123; and 660ft-3.013/282.84 mph.

No. 4 Millican lined up Sunday morning against Scott Palmer, who has surprised some folks with his consistent appearances in the top 10 in 2017, typically just two or three spots behind the Parts Plus driver. No one was more surprised than Millican when Palmer seized the starting-line advantage as the two drivers dueled on this Seattle Sunday. However, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster quickly chased down Palmer, and Millican kept it hooked up the rest of the way to turn on the win light with a 3.765, beating Palmer’s quickest pass of the weekend: 3.85@323.12.

“Some teams have overlooked Scott this year, but we knew he was certainly capable of pulling it off today,” Millican says. “Luckily, Grubby had it set to go just quick enough to turn on that win light. That had to be heck of a drag race to watch.”

Most important, with the E1 victory, Millican clinched a berth in the Countdown playoff, a primary team objective since day one. “Our goal at the start of the year was to reach the Countdown’s top five,” Millican says. “We said to ourselves afterward that we still have got to win a lot more rounds. Really, we’ve accomplished only half the goal, as we want to be in the top five when the Countdown starts—and right now we’re at sixth or seventh. Now…let’s go turn on some more win lights!”

Millican had a great opportunity to not only turn on another win light in second round but also to close the gap between the Parts Plus team and Brittany Force, who has been one or two spots ahead of him all season long.

But with a 6-3 edge over Force in previous elimination rounds, Grubby, of course, went for the win. Despite the importance of this run, Millican remained calm, treating it like just another round on just another day at the track.

Millican’s confidence must’ve permeated throughout the car, as the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster roared past Force right at the light and never looked back for the win. Officially, Millican’s 3.769 was too much for Force, whose car started to haze the tires just before half-track and pedaled it, but was unable to hook it back up.

“That was our third-straight 3.76 run, so our consistency is back, and I love it,” Millican says. “I figured at first we’d have to do it again if we wanted to beat Antron Brown, who’s just a bad dude behind that wheel each and every week. But then Grubby made a point that the track was really starting to heat up, so we figured it was very important for us just to get down the racetrack.

Turned out to be a challenging yet close encounter. Taking the increasing temps into account, Grubby figured a high 3.7 would be enough to defeat Brown on this day, and he just about nailed it. Brown held a slight starting-line advantage, with the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster in hot pursuit. But Brown managed to keep it hooked up all the way down the groove, edging Millican by 0.0393 seconds. Officially, Brown’s 3.781@325.22 topped Millican’s 3.794@318.32.

“We probably could have gone a little quicker,” Millican admits. “It was a good race for sure, but it would have been a lot better if we had run a 3.76. Afterward, Grubby was doing a little ‘Sunday morning quarterbacking,’ saying in hindsight we played it a little too safe and should have gone for the 3.76. But that’s racing for ya. Still, we can’t complain—top-five qualifying spot, we caught up a bit on Brittany, turned on a couple of win lights. And, oh yeah, we clinched a spot in the Countdown! That’s big.”

For crew chief Grubnic, he feels vindicated after some in the media have continually questioned the decision to swap out the old but proven Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster from 2016 in favor of the new one.

“Talk about consistency—the Parts Plus car we started the season with was so good, so consistent, especially toward the end of last season,” Millican says. “But then we get to 2017, and it was getting to the point this year that it was just consistently inconsistent, if that makes any sense.”

Ultimately, the call was Grubby’s to make, and he didn’t flinch. “We just kept having situations where we’d smoke the tires, and I’d blame myself, that I’d misread read the track or something,” says Grubnic, a former NHRA driver. “I’d say we started to see a pattern develop in Atlanta this year, and then we saw it again and again. Setups that had been reliable in the past stopped being reliable, and that’s what motivated the change. So, we went out and changed cars.

“After we got the expected hiccups out of the way early, we’ve got our consistency back now with the new car. I think today was a strong indicator of what you can expect from this team the rest of the way.”

Weeks after making history with his driver’s first Wally win on Father’s Day, Grubnic is now focused on ensuring the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster maintains the superior consistency Millican will need to chase down a championship in 2017.

“I think I know why Grubby was so chipper this weekend—some of the hoopla surrounding our big win is starting to settle down,” Millican says with a laugh. “Grubby’s just like, 'OK we’ve got this done—now let’s start doing it over and over and over again.’ He was seriously more concerned about getting that done than I was. He thinks we have a few more [Wally trophies] in our near future, and I believe him.”

2017 NHRA Top Fuel Standings

(following Seattle)

  • 1. Antron Brown: 1,418
  • 2. Steve Torrence: 1,405
  • 3. Leah Pritchett: 1,329
  • 4. Tony Schumacher: 1064
  • 5. Brittany Force: 992
  • 6. Doug Kalitta: 977
  • 7. Clay Millican: 937
  • 8. Terry McMillen: 690
  • 9. Scott Palmer: 606
  • 10.Troy Coughlin Jr.: 560

Next Race
Aug. 17–20
NHRA Nationals
Brainerd, Minn.

‘Shark’ Tanks

Parts Plus/Great Clips Team’s String of Consistency Sinks at Sonoma

by Network Staff

Posted on July 31, 2017

After a grueling weekend on the Mountain in Denver, Parts Plus/Great Clips driver Clay Millican was thrilled to return to sea level—appropriately enough with a special paint scheme on the car featuring a great white shark, thanks to a Discovery Channel sponsorship promoting the network’s “Shark Week” series.

After a grueling weekend on the Mountain in Denver, Parts Plus/Great Clips driver Clay Millican was thrilled to return to sea level—appropriately enough with a special paint scheme on the car featuring a great white shark, thanks to a Discovery Channel sponsorship promoting the network’s “Shark Week” series.

“The high altitude of Denver was so tricky for everyone,” Millican says. “So yes, expectations were high as we returned to sea level in Sonoma, especially after running three consecutive 3.79s at Denver—we were just about the only car to have that kind of consistency. Unfortunately, we broke a part last week, which is very rare for this team. So, yes, we still felt good about everything we were doing.”

After observing some strong numbers in the Funny Car racing before the Top Fuel qualifiers, Stringer Performance David Grubnic smelled blood in the water and decided to go for the kill, aiming for a low 3.7 in Friday’s opening qualifying round. It proved to be a smart move on Grubby’s part.

Just like sharks, which are incredibly fast in short bursts while pursuing prey, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster launched hard in Q1, propelling down the track for an impressive 3.744. Millican's incremental times: 60ft-0.840 sec.; 330ft-2.121; and 660ft-3.004/285.95 mph. Meanwhile, in the other lane, Terry McMillen's engine let go with a great ball of fire right off the line, with the chutes deploying shortly afterward.

“I’ll tell you what, that was a good lap,” Millican says. “Grubby told me beforehand, ‘We’re just going to make sure it gets on down through there, and then we’ll tune ’er up tonight.’ So I was really excited at that point. That was a great way to start, no doubt about it. This has always been one of my favorite places to race because it’s so scenic, surrounded by vineyards and all these lush, rolling hills. And I’m sure it was a pretty sight to see our Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster go straight down the track to put us temporarily at No. 1.”

With everything going swimmingly, Stringer Performance crew chief David Grubnic decided to make some more waves in Q2, but this time the Parts Plus/”Shark Week” car found the going a little choppy. Millican was up in smoke right at the hit, so the popular Parts Plus driver clicked it off.

“Man, oh, man, we started off like gangbusters, so that was a big miss there,” Millican says. “Still, we liked our chances sitting at No. 2 heading into Saturday.”

Unfortunately, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster was all shark and no bite the rest of the weekend. After two forgettable runs to close out qualifying, Millican had to settle for the No. 8 qualifying spot, setting up a first-round matchup on Sunday with Terry McMillen.

McMillen appeared to be shark bait, as Millican held the advantage in previous elimination showdowns, 9-3. On this Sunday, however, the tide turned.

With track temps circling around 99 degrees, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster once again launched hard and seized the starting-line advantage before going up in smoke, sinking Millican’s chances. This time, a fireball-free McMillen blazed straight down the track with his second-quickest pass of the weekend for the win.

“We just missed on the setup a little bit,” Millican says. “And that’s not taking anything from Terry McMillen, ‘cause he just kicked our butts. The lack of consistency on our end is a concern obviously, but we’ll get it figured out. We’re halfway through the Western swing, and this Parts Plus/Great Clips team is doing great. We can’t wait to get to Seattle.”

2017 NHRA Top Fuel Standings

  • (following Sonoma)
  • 1. Steve Torrence: 1,369
  • 2. Antron Brown: 1,294
  • 3. Leah Pritchett: 1,250
  • 4. Tony Schumacher: 1008
  • 5. Brittany Force: 935
  • 6. Doug Kalitta: 933
  • 7. Clay Millican: 861
  • 8. Terry McMillen: 598
  • 9. Scott Palmer: 575
  • 10.Troy Coughlin Jr.: 528

Next Race

Aug. 4–6
NHRA Northwest Nationals
Kent, Wash.

Automotive Distribution Network Holds Annual Board of Directors Meeting in Miami

by Network Staff

Posted on July 25, 2017

The Automotive Distribution Network held its annual Board of Directors meeting at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla. on July 10-14, 2017.

“Addressing the long-term industry issues that affect our group three, five and even 10 years out is invaluable to charting the future course for our shareholders and members,” said David Prater, president of the Network. “The annual BOD meeting serves as a benchmark for the free-flowing exchange of ideas and expertise that provides valuable insight into future plans and objectives for our group.”

During the four-day meeting, the group discussed product and vendor standards, motorsports, marketing and training programs, and key information and technology issues that influence the group’s overall strategy.

While a wide range of issues related to our industry and specifically

to the Network were discussed, a great emphasis was placed on line commonality and how we can become better partners with our vendors and help grow our members’ business.

“The Network is poised to take full advantage of our unique position in the industry with both our Parts Plus and Auto Pride divisions,” explained Jeff Hobson, vice president of product. “In the upcoming months, we will be working diligently to drive volume to those vendors who best support our efforts and reward them with increased levels of sales.”

The Network’s Shareholder Meeting will take place in September at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort at Gainey Ranch; followed by the Program Manager Meeting and AWDA in Las Vegas this October.

Mountain Man

Parts Plus/Great Clips Driver Clay Millican Climbs to Quarterfinals at Denver’s Thunder Mountain

by Network Staff

Posted on July 24, 2017

Parts Plus/Great Clips driver Clay Millican calls it the toughest track on the NHRA Mello Yello Series schedule. Without a doubt, the Bandimere Speedway in Denver presents unique challenges, with an altitude that’s been known to have dragsters gasping for air, much like a visiting NFL team playing the Denver Broncos.

“I’ve always looked at coming to Thunder Mountain as simply surviving—that is, getting out of here with most of your motors intact. Denver is by far the hardest place to tune a racecar for by far,” Millican maintains.

Ah, but not to worry. Parts Plus/Great Clips crew chief David Grubnic entered the race weekend at Mopar Mile-High Nationals with a game plan. Specifically, “Grubby” prepared the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster for the Mountain’s high altitude and lack of oxygen by adding more compression and taking away a lot of fuel.

Millican got off to a shaky start in Q1, as the Parts Plus Great Clips dragster had a great pass going before dropping a cylinder on the top end, forcing a click-off. Millican’s Q1 incremental times: 60ft-0.838 sec.; 330ft-2.129; and 660ft-3.039@274.39 mph.

Lining up against his former teammate Bob Vandergriff in Friday’s second qualifying session, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster had another solid pass going until the flames went out before the finish line. Millican's Q2 incremental times: 60ft-0.852 sec.; 330ft-2.142; and 660ft-3.032@278.29 mph.

In a rematch with Vandergriff in Saturday’s Q3, the Parts Plus/Great Clips driver had a tremendous pass going until the dragster pitched a blower belt. Still, Millican delivered an impressive 3.796@309.77 mph. The Parts Plus car’s Q3 incremental times: 60ft-0.852 sec.; 330ft-2.142; and 660ft-3.032@278.29 mph.

With Millican lining up against Terry McMillen to close out qualifying, Grubnic aimed to get the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster down the track to finish a run. Mission accomplished, as the popular Parts Plus driver crossed the finish line under power for the first time of the weekend, running a 3.799@316.82 mph.

“Even though we didn’t finish a couple of runs, we had a really solid, consistent race car in qualifying,” Millican says. “This thing just kept going right down the racetrack. Yesterday [Saturday], we went 3.79 twice.”

With the team qualified in the 8th spot, Grubby elected to shoot for the same number on Sunday morning’s first round of eliminations, as Millican lined up against—you guessed it—No. 9 qualifier Vandergriff. Sporting a Discovery “Shark Week” paint scheme for this event, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster chomped up Vandergriff, leaving him behind at the starting line and never looking back for the win, with a 3.798@315.19 mph. That number was good enough to eliminate Millican’s ol’ pal, who ran a respectable 3.866@311.99 mph in what was a great head-to-head drag race.

“Boy, talk about consistency,” Millican says. “We went out there first round, and this thing goes right down the racetrack and runs a third 3.79. just like we did in qualifying.”

Millican would face a tougher challenge in round 2, as the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster lined up against Leah Pritchett, who the Tennessee native beat in the finals on Father’s Day to bring home his first NHRA Top Fuel Wally.

This time, the Shark car’s consistency imploded like the great white shark in Jaws, as Millican seized a slight advantage off the start, but the car shut off early after a problem with the engine. This enabled Pritchett to take the win with a 3.817@320.28 to Millican’s 3.927/254.47.

“We left the starting line first, and we were ahead at half-track,” Millican says. “Unfortunately, we broke. We hurt the car. I’ve always looked at coming to this track as simply surviving—that is, getting out of here with most of your motors intact. But you know what? We have a really good race car. We’re bringing the ‘Shark Week’ car to Sonoma, and we’re just going to keep devouring the completion.”

Millican remains No. 7 in the Mello Yello Top Fuel Series points standings, just behind Brittany Force.

2017 NHRA Top Fuel Standings

  • (following Denver)
  • 1. Steve Torrence: 1,253
  • 2. Antron Brown: 1,199
  • 3. Leah Pritchett: 1,183
  • 4. Tony Schumacher: 974
  • 5. Doug Kalitta: 974
  • 6. Brittany Force: 871
  • 7. Clay Millican: 826
  • 8. Terry McMillen: 826
  • 9. Scott Palmer: 528
  • 10.Troy Coughlin Jr.: 496

Next Race

July 28–30

Sonoma Nationals

Sonoma, Calif.

WM Automotive is Set for Success This Summer!

by Network Staff

Posted on July 21, 2017

In this week’s WD Spotlight, we took a moment to catch up with Tarynn Adams, marketing manager for WM Automotive in Fort Worth, Texas.

This year, WM has been re-branding all their company-owned stores by updating the exterior structures and adding new signage. Their strategy is to modernize all their stores in a particular area and then move to another, territory by territory. Once a store re-model is completed, WM holds a Grand Opening–and they make sure to take lots of great pictures which is a “plus” for marketing and sharing on social media! Check them out below. You can see all the great before-and-after images on WM’s Instagram page. Their next Grand Opening is scheduled to be Lampasas in early August.

To accompany their new look, WM is working on a group Facebook page, so that all the stores can share tips and information with each other. This, in addition to their excellent Instagram page, will provide WM with a stronger online presence, and make it advantageous for customers and stores to follow their progress and interact with one another.

Customers and stores can also look forward to seeing WM at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals in Dallas this October, where they usually host about 100 VIP customers throughout the weekend at the Parts Plus Motorsports ClubRev hospitality event. Tarynn anticipates a bigger turnout this year, as Clay Millican and the Parts Plus Top Fuel dragster continue to move up in the points.

WM Automotive Warehouse, Inc. has been a member of The Network since 1996, and Tarynn has been with the company for five years.

Let us know what you are up to this summer! We love to brag on our WDs, autostores and service dealers! Send your info to

ACI Golf Outing Pairs Auto Parts Vendors with Customers

by Network Staff

Posted on July 18, 2017

ACI Parts Warehousing, a Shareholder of the Automotive Distribution Network, hosted their seventh annual golf outing on July 15, 2017 at the Forest Akers Golf course in Lansing, Mich. at Michigan State University. More than 150 customers of ACI were in attendance, along with 35 vendors, for a fun-filled day and some great golf.

ACI Staff and customers mingle with sponsoring suppliers

“Every year, our customers and vendor partners look forward to this event,” said Imants Kreslins, vice president of ACI. “It gives everyone involved an opportunity to socialize outside of the workplace and build stronger relationships between our parts suppliers, our service dealer customers and ourselves as a parts distributor.”

Suppliers and ACI customers all enjoyed a fun day at the course

In addition to a great day of golf, each participant received door prizes and goodie bags that were generously provided by the vendors. This helped create brand awareness for current ACI customers and also for the public who played golf afterward. Mr. Kreslins said he hoped they enjoyed all the Parts Plus golf balls scattered throughout the course!

The Automotive Distribution Network contributed to the event by sponsoring a hole for Parts Plus Car Care Centers, as well as providing cooling towels, golf balls and tees.

ACI Parts Warehousing owns and operates 35 Parts Plus storefronts and distribution centers throughout Michigan and Ohio. For more information about ACI, please contact Shaun Lynch at

WD Spotlight: Brian Mendelson, The Parts House

by Network Staff

Posted on July 17, 2017

As part of our ongoing member spotlight series, we called on Brian Mendelson, vice president of sales and marketing, at The Parts House in Jacksonville, Fla. to fill us in on their marketing promotions for the summer season.

This year, The Parts House has partnered with ACDelco to award a car, a boat and an ATV in a scratch-off contest. Entrants can collect one of six different game pieces for a chance to win a trip to the Orlando GM Test Track for a VIP shop tour, dinner, and then over to an Epcot private island for a laser light show and dessert. Winners will also drive indoor go-karts which will be followed by the prize drawing. The promotion runs from July through September. All installers who purchase ACDelco products can participate!

In addition to this summer’s promotion, The Parts House employees and service dealer customers participate in local charities, including Rotary Clubs and other volunteer work. As a company, The Parts House supports K9s for Warriors and during the holidays, they make a donation on behalf of all their customers. K9s For Warriors is dedicated to providing service canines to our Warriors suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disability, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma as a result of military service post-9/11.Their goal is to empower them to return to civilian life with dignity and independence. CLICK HERE for more information.

To help increase sales and create awareness of shop supplies , The Parts House is featuring Flash Friday specials for consumables through the Network’s WebShop program where they often sell a month’s worth of product in one day! CSRs are also given a bonus based on who sells the most each week. What a great incentive!

The Parts House (TPH) is a , warehouse distributor (WD) of premium automotive and heavy duty truck parts and accessories. With numerous auto parts warehouses, TPH is one of the largest distributors in the Southeastern United States and Caribbean.

For more information, please visit their website (pictured) at

Let us know what you are up to this summer! We love to brag on our WDs, autostores and service dealers! Send your info to

Sanel Auto Parts/Parts Plus Sponsor Ross Chastain in NASCAR Xfinity Series in Loudon, N.H.

by Network Staff

Posted on July 13, 2017

UPDATE: Check out the pictures from the event!

Sanel Auto Parts and Parts Plus will sponsor driver Ross Chastain and the No. 4 JD Motorsports with Gary Keller (JDM) Chevrolet this Saturday, July 15 in the Overton 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. Fans will get the chance to meet Chastain and view the No. 4 car on Friday, July 14, from 5 – 7 p.m. at Sanel Auto Parts, 219 South Main Street, Concord, NH 03301.

“We are thrilled to have the folks at Sanel and Parts Plus on board with us this week,” said team owner Johnny Davis, a veteran of the Xfinity Series. “We show up at the track every week with our cars at their very best, and I know Sanel and Parts Plus look at their business exactly the same way. We’re looking forward to a big weekend at Loudon with them.”

Sanel Auto Parts has long been a staple of the New Hampshire community and is thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of the local NASCAR Xfinity experience.

“We are so excited to be the title sponsor of the No. 4 Chevrolet for the Loudon race,” said David T. Segal, President of Sanel Auto Parts. “This opportunity with JD Motorsports provides us a great venue to expand our local image of Sanel Auto Parts and Parts Plus and are so proud to sponsor Ross Chastain and the team.”

One of the most talented young drivers in the series, Chastain has gained renewed attention with finishes of fourth and sixth in recent Xfinity races. Chastain, from Alva, Fla., ran the full Truck schedule in 2012, posting one top-five and four top-10s. In 2013, he ran 14 Truck events, with four top-fives and seven top-10s. In 2015, his first full-time Xfinity season, Chastain scored four top-tens and finished 15th in driver points. Chastain comes from a family deeply rooted in the agriculture industry. He grew up working on his family’s farm, growing a variety of crops, with the last 15 years consisting of a strong footprint in the watermelon industry.

The No. 4 Chevrolet driven by Chastain is owned by JD Motorsports with Gary Keller (JDM). JDM is currently the only NASCAR Xfinity race team whose sponsorship opportunities include their new value-added Social Media Kiosk to enhance fan engagement in most social media platforms.

Sanel Auto Parts is a Parts Plus shareholder and has 38 locations in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. The company’s headquarters is in Concord, N.H. They are a leading auto parts, heavy-duty truck parts and body shop supplies distributor delivering quality parts, automotive paint and body supplies, and tools and equipment that are durable, dependable and long-lasting. Sanel employs a knowledgeable, professionally trained team of automotive experts that assist top-notch mechanics, service garages and individual customers with finding the right products and solutions that fit their needs. Sanel Auto Parts stores are dedicated to honesty and integrity from the products they sell to their high customer-service standards.

“It’s great to have an area sponsor involved when we race,” said driver Ross Chastain. “We’re proud to carry the colors of Sanel Auto Parts and Parts Plus this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.”

Parts Plus has a successful history in motorsports through their ongoing sponsorship in NHRA of Parts Plus / Great Clips Top Fuel Dragster driven by Clay Millican and owned by Stringer Performance. Visit for details.

Quick on Route 66

Parts Plus/Great Clips Team Recovers, Roars to Semis with Major League Effort

by Network Staff

Posted on July 10, 2017

After earning his first Wally in an emotional win on Father’s Day, Parts Plus/Great Clips driver Clay Millican predicted other trophies would soon follow. After racing his way to the semis at the NHRA event named after Route 66, Millican appeared to be in position to get his kicks again.

Friday’s qualifying sessions turned out to be more of a kick in the tail, as the Parts Plus/Great Clips team found themselves on the outside looking in, as Millican failed to qualify in the “homerun session.”

Millican was disappointed but never down, as he entered the weekend with good vibes. The Tennessee native made his NHRA debut in 1998 at the Route 66 event behind the wheel of a Chicago White Sox car.

“Maybe that’s why we struck out in the homerun session—some kind of White Sox jinx,” Millican deadpans. “We were determined to knock it out of the park on Saturday instead.”

It also wasn’t exactly the start crew chief David Grubnic had in mind, especially after finally bringing home a Wally last month in a new-and-improved Parts Plus dragster.

“We’re still figuring out a few things on this new car, but we’ve already seen what this Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster can do when everything’s clicking,” Grubnic says. “The previous car—we had to change it out, but it took us a while to figure that out. We’d smoke the tires, and I’d blame myself—thinking that I’d misread the track or something. Then starting in Atlanta this year, we’d started to see a pattern develop, and it did it more often. So we changed the car out, and we’re starting to see much improved consistency—that is, until tonight. But I expect us to run much better Saturday and Sunday.”

Grubnic’s expectations went up in smoke quickly the next day, however, as the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster hazed the tires just as Millican hit the throttle, forcing an early click-off.

“Man, I can’t even remember the last time we were in that kind of position, where you feel the pressure of potentially missing the field,” Millican says. “But honestly, we still had confidence in the car heading into Q4. Missing the field, especially after winning that Wally—well, let’s just say we were determined not to let that happen.”

True to Millican’s word, Grubnic didn’t dial it back and play it safe, as the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster stepped up to the plate during the proverbial bottom of the 9th to deliver a thundering shot: an awesome 3.730 pass that qualified the team third. Millican’s Q4 incremental times: 60ft-0.837 sec.; 330ft-2.114; and 660ft-2.999/286.56 mph.

“Ha, never had a doubt, I tell you,” Millican says with a laugh. “Really, really proud that my Parts Plus/Great Clips team didn’t panic and believed in what we were doing. And we made that top 5, which always makes Grubby smile.”

Heck, everyone on the team was grinning when they learned that as the No. 3 qualifier the Tennessee native would be facing a part-time driver in round one Sunday: Kyle Wurtzer, who Millican beat in round one on Father’s Day en route to seizing the Wally.

Wurtzel surprised Millican at the Christmas three, taking a slight starting-line advantage, but the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster quickly chased him down. Despite Wurtzel turning in his quickest pass of the weekend, the Parts Plus car simply had too much power to overcome. Officially, Millican’s 3.813@323.81 topped Wurtzel’s 3.906@300.80.

“Grubby knew what Wurtzel was capable of, so we figured a 3.8 straight down the track would be enough to win—and that’s what we did.”

Round two presented a tougher challenger in the form of former Series champion Shawn Langdon, who entered the day 11-6 vs. Millican in previous elimination matchups. Make that 11-7, as Millican again had to chase down his opponent but ended up with the win in a great drag race, with a MOV of 0.0107 seconds (approximately 5 feet).

“Man, what a race,” Millican says. “In the past, we lost so many tight ones to guys like Langdon by the closest of margins. Not today, baby! Not today!”

But could Millican break the dominant streak of Antron Brown, who entered the event 20-1 vs. Millican in past events? Grubby didn’t flinch, electing to swing for it, but this time missed, as the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster mixed up cylinders early, enabling Brown to cruise to the finals.

“Disappointing for sure, but it’s just one race, and we did turn on a couple of win lights. Our goal at the start of the year was to go into the Countdown top five, and we’re just out of sixth right now. I’d say we did a pretty dang good job picking up round wins this weekend.”

Millican holds tight at No. 7 in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello standings, 22 points behind Brittany Force, but still very much alive in the proverbial pennant race.

2017 NHRA Top Fuel Standings

(following Bristol)

  • 1. Steve Torrence: 1,188
  • 2. Leah Pritchett: 1,087
  • 3. Antron Brown: 1,085
  • 4. Tony Schumacher: 894
  • 5. Doug Kalitta: 813
  • 6. Brittany Force: 795
  • 7. Clay Millican: 773
  • 8. Terry McMillen: 509
  • 9. Scott Palmer: 496
  • 10.Troy Coughlin Jr.: 480

Next Race

July 21-23
Summit Racing Equipment Nationals

Automotive Distribution Network Announces New Vice President of Product

by Network Staff

Posted on July 7, 2017

The Automotive Distribution Network has named Jeff Hobson Vice President of Product effective immediately.

“Mr. Hobson comes to the Network as an industry veteran with more than 25 years' experience in the auto care industry,” said David Prater, president of the Network. “After a successful career with Advance Auto, Jeff will quickly make an impact for our shareholders by leveraging the strengths of our geographical and brand strategies to foster continued growth objectives for the group.”

Mr. Hobson will be responsible for all aspects of the Product department including executing the group's import initiative, co-man facility, and implementing innovative product brand strategies across multiple product categories.

Mr. Hobson most recently worked as product director for Advance Auto Parts/Carquest, preceded by multiple roles in the automotive aftermarket, including sales, marketing, advertising and product development initiatives.

“I am both excited and privileged to join the Automotive Distribution Network and look forward to building new and existing vendor relationships, while furthering the product processes for Parts Plus, Auto Pride and IAPA,” said Mr. Hobson. “Solidifying the market potential through the management of specific product development is key to increasing the growth margin for our members and Shareholders. Tackling these responsibilities with fresh tactics and a new approach will no doubt prove to be beneficial for the long-term success of our group. I am honored to be a part of this team.”

AAPEX Express Quarterly

The NEW at AAPEX 2017


Posted on July 7, 2017


The New Aftermarket Era: Opportunities Your Business Could be Missing in China

New Webinar Thursday, July 20, 2017, 10 a.m. ET

by Auto Care Association

Posted on July 6, 2017

China’s aftermarket has a clear runway to be the largest parts and repair market in the world within 10 years. Its latent potential is huge with almost 290 million licensed drivers. China’s car parc is second only to the U.S., but will close the gap in five to seven years. By 2020, the parts and repair market will reach an estimated $188 billion with an average vehicle age of only about seven years.

The window of opportunity is now while the market is still in a fluid state with a strong appetite for foreign brands, technology and business processes. In five years the ante to enter the market will be costlier and with fewer openings. The market also poses many challenges which need to be understood and addressed.

In this complimentary webinar, Chinese aftermarket expert, Steven Ganster of Solidiance, will describe this opportunity and what it takes to successfully play in the market.
He will present the following topics:

  • What makes now the time to expand your business to China;
  • U.S. market comparisons and what the analysis reveals;
  • Planning and operational challenges which need to be addressed
  • Key principles including the most updated resource you need now for success;
  • and more.

Space is limited. Reserve your seat today. If you miss this webinar, you will miss out.

About Steve
Steve is a director at Solidiance, an Asian-focused market growth strategy firm with 13 offices across 12 countries in the region. Steve has more than 30 years of international consulting experience in Asia. Clients include General Motors, Delphi, TRW, Federal Mogul, Advance Auto and many others. Steve is the author of the book, “The China Ready Company” and won an Emmy for his role in the DVD series, “On the Frontlines: Doing Business in China.”

Register Here

Telematics ‘an Existential Threat and Opportunity’ for Automotive Aftermarket

by Telematics Talk Staff

Posted on July 5, 2017

By 2020, it’s estimated that 90 percent of all new vehicles will be transmitting data. That’s a big deal for automotive aftermarket parts retailers, manufacturers, repairers and others in the industry, who will be on the front lines of ensuring that consumers’ vehicle data is both accessible and secure.


Four Online Review Mistakes to Avoid

by Melissa Steinken, Ratchet + Wrench

Posted on July 4, 2017

Ben Prickett decided to move his family and take three round trips driving from Texas to Indiana when he took over Lake City Transmission and Muffler in 2015 and renamed the small business to give the repair shop a revamp and modernize the business.


Clay Millican’s Other Favorite Day

by Clay Millican for Drag Racing Scene

Posted on July 3, 2017

Father’s Day has not been one of my favorite days for the past couple of years since we lost Dalton. Since the race at Bristol Dragway is on Father’s Day weekend, they do a good job of doing something special for drivers before the race. They give a driver intro, and then you get in the back of the truck and parade down in front of the crowd. For the past two years, I’ve skipped out on it because I don’t want to think about it being Father’s Day. I avoided my phone on Sunday and ignored any calls that came in. I spoke only to my son, Cale, and to my Daddy and sisters. I just tried to make it an absolute normal Sunday race day.


Federal Mogul Launches Garage Forum

by Network Staff

Posted on June 27, 2017

Find Out More

Millican Keeps on Rollin’ at Ohio

Parts Plus Dragster Turns on a Win Light Before Losing a Close One in Norwalk

by Network Staff

Posted on June 26, 2017

After bringing home his first Top Fuel Wally in the NHRA Mello Yello Series, Parts Plus driver Clay Millican couldn’t wait to get to Norwalk to maintain his winning ways at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals.

“This is the fourth event in a row for the Parts Plus crew, and boy, we really seem to peaking right now,” Millican says. “My team was just awesome last week, especially before our semis run, where they had to change the motor on a tight turnaround. Well, the Parts Plus crew turned it around with minutes to spare. Then for us to go on to win our first event really did a lot for our confidence. Y’know, we’re a single-car team, but I think everyone, from team owner Doug Stringer to Grubby [crew chief David Grubnic] to all the crew guys—we’ve proven we can go out each and every race weekend to compete to win.”

Millican admits it was nice this week not having to deal with questions from the media regarding the “elusive” Wally. “I honestly think they’re [future Wally trophies] going to come much faster now, but yes, it’s been pretty cool talking about the Bristol win and what it feels like to actually have a Wally and a big win under our belt. The trick is staying focused on the future. Now we just have to get back out and win some more; heck, our attitude entering Norwalk was to make it two in a row.

“If we pull this off and win this weekend, I can promise you, it’ll be a celebration we’ll never forget,” says Millican, flashing that famous grin.

For a moment, it appeared Millican would indeed maintain the hot hand that drove the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster to victory in front of his fellow Tennesseans at Bristol last week. During Friday’s Q1, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster launched hard and kept it hooked up to temporarily go to the No. 1 spot. Millican’s incremental times: 60ft-0.844 sec.; 330ft-2.120; and 660ft-2.998@287.60 mph.

Grubby elected to swing for the fences in Q2, but unfortunately struck out when the Parts Plus dragster lost traction, forcing Millican to click it off.

On Saturday, the Parts Plus dragster was back in Wally-winning form, as Millican went straight down the groove with the quickest pass of the qualifying session, with a 3.786@324.51; however, it wasn’t enough to improve. The Parts Plus dragster’s Q3 incremental times: 60ft-0.860 sec.; 330ft-2.150; and 660ft-3.041/283.73 mph.

Looking to improve and ensure a top-5 qualifying spot, Grubby maintained a fast tune-up; however, this time, the Parts Plus dragster hazed the tires around the 200-foot mark and clicked it off.

By the end of Saturday’s qualifying session, Millican was No. 6, just missing the team’s objective of a top-five qualifying spot. “Nevertheless, we felt pretty happy with what we were doing, and that put us in what we felt was a favorable matchup with Scott Palmer,” Millican says.

Millican’s prophecy turned out to be true Sunday, as the No. 6 qualifier delivered with a 3.775 @311.63 mph, while Palmer’s car went silent right at the hit before limping to a stop at around the 100-ft mark.

“Y’know, we’re still learning with this new car,” Millican says. “But both these Parts Plus cars were built by [Brad] Hadman, and they’re almost in sequence so I believe they behave the same way. I don’t think there will be much difference in weight or anything else. I’m hoping that everything that Grubby learned with our old car will transition to this new one.”

Hadman, a noted chassis builder for more than 40 years, helped readjust the new Parts Plus dragster, moving the set and the gas pedal to Millican’s liking. “Every driver wants the car to feel a certain way,” Millican explains. “Brad basically made the car fit exactly the way I was used to.”

Millican easily advanced to the quarter-finals, where he’d meet Steve Torrence. Last week, Millican beat Torrence in the semis en route to winning the Parts Plus team’s first Wally.

With weather conditions at 80 degrees, relative humidity 31 percent, barometer and track temperature at 117 degrees, Torrence seized the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win, despite the Parts Plus dragster launching hard and Millican hanging on for a nice-looking pass in a losing effort. Officially, Torrence’s 3.792@326.79 mph edged Millican’s 3.872@312.86, thanks in part to the Parts Plus/Great Clips dropping a cylinder.

“We went into the second round against the man who’s been on fire and won here in the past in Steve Torrence,” Millican says. “We had him most of the way, but we dropped a cylinder, and those things are most likely not going to turn a win light on.”

Although Millican would love to keep on racing, the Parts Plus Top Fuel team has a week off before returning July 6–9 at Chicago’s Route 66 Nationals.

“It’s been an amazing four-race swing,” Millican says. “Last year on this four-race swing, I don’t think we won a single round, and we tore up a lot of parts,” Millican says. “Here we are in Norwalk, and we just wrapped things up with a win light to end the swing—most important, we earned our first Wally along the way, and we didn’t hurt any parts or any motors. All the guys worked their tails off these last four weeks. I feel like a proud papa.”

2017 NHRA Top Fuel Standings

(following Norwalk)

1. Steve Torrence: 1,071

2. Leah Pritchett: 1,021

3. Antron Brown: 990

4. Tony Schumacher: 856

5. Doug Kalitta: 781

6. Brittany Force: 734

7. Clay Millican: 695

8. Terry McMillen: 477

9. Troy Coughlin Jr.: 464

10. Scott Palmer: 464

Next Race

July 21–23

Mopar Mile-High Nationals

Morrison, Colorado

A Hollywood Ending at Home

Parts Plus/Great Clips Driver Clay Millican Wins First Top Fuel Wally, for Dalton, on Father’s Day

by Network Staff

Posted on June 19, 2017

Clay Millican is preparing to line up Sunday for his semi-final showdown with Steve Torrence at Bristol Dragway when a fan hands the Parts Plus/Great Clips driver a small motocross chest protector signed by Clay’s son, the late Dalton Millican, No. 25.

“That’s the first autograph Dalton ever signed,” he tells Millican. Moved by the gesture, Millican nearly breaks down, asking, “Are you really giving this to me?” As the man nods and walks away, a sudden calm comes over Millican. “I’m saying to myself, ‘OK, today’s the day then.’ I relax. I joke and cut up with the team. As it turned out, you couldn’t have written it any better.”

No one could have. But we’ll try to do the moment justice here.

Clay Millican, a Tennessee native racing in his home race at Bristol Dragway in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Series goes on to beat Torrence in the semis. He then outlasts Leah Pritchett, a three-time event winner in 2017, in the finals to bring home his first Top Fuel Wally. Finally. On Father’s Day, no less. The winning time? 3.825—that’s right, No. 25 on the end. Pow, pow!

Let’s back it up.

The weekend starts off business as usual. The Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster records a solid Q1 run straight down the track to temporarily go to the No. 1 qualifier spot with a 3.833@315.46 mph, despite hot, muggy conditions that turn the otherwise pristine Bristol track into a sticky, tricky mess. Although the Parts Plus/Great Clips smokes the tires in Q2, Stringer Performance crew chief David Grubnic’s confidence never wavers.

“The chassis on the new Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster is really coming together to Grubby’s liking. On Friday night, we just pushed it a bit much.”

On Saturday, while it appears Millican hazes the tires in Q3, he actually breaks a drive hub on the rear end, so one wheel just quits pulling.

“It’s hard enough to keep traction with two wheels in this heat, let alone one,” Millican says.

The Parts Plus/Great Clips team repairs the problem and then goes straight down the racetrack to temporarily take the No. 2 spot in Q4 before settling for No. 4 by the end of qualifying.

“I knew Grubby was feeling pretty confident about what we were doing—even this morning, he was smiling and carrying on,” he says. “Grubby was so relaxed, I think it helped my own confidence.”

Then Millican promptly goes out and smokes the tires in first round Sunday, before getting after the throttle to recover, and the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster coasts to victory against part-timer Kyle Wurtzel, whose car is nearly engulfed by a fireball at the hit.

“That should have been the best track we’d see all day before it got so hot. Grubby hit the safety device to cut the car off because he knew we had the round won, and he wanted to ensure we didn’t hurt the motor by over-revving it. So first round, we were there for the taking, really. But we got the win, that was the big thing.”

The Stringer Performance team does a nice job getting the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster ready. Millican will line up in second round against Brittany Force and one of the winningest NHRA crew chiefs ever, Alan Johnson, who has been a part of 11 Top Fuel championships with five drivers and, overall, 15 NHRA national championship efforts.

Grubby pulls Millican aside and tells him, “If No. 1 is our 3.67 tune-up, then normally we’re set up on a No. 6, using a scale of 1 to 10. No. 6 is sort of the middle of the road, so that’s what we’re tuned at—usually. But it’s so freakin’ hot and nasty out there, I’ve got it dialed back to a 10. I don’t know how to take much more off it.” In other words, “Just get down the track, and we win.” Trouble is, Johnson is probably telling Force the same thing.

In one of the slowest races you’ll ever see between two Top Fuel powerhouses, the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster never trails, winning with a 4.011@294.18 mph to the Monster Energy car’s 4.060@267.85 mph.

“We left the starting line, and I’m thinking, this thing is slow. It just was not the kind of acceleration I’m used to expecting. But hey, we’ll take it,” Millican says.

Then the fun begins. The Parts Plus/Great Clips teams is pretty far into the turnaround for the semis—we’re talking quick, quick turnarounds at this point—before they find a black spot on the crankshaft, which means the bearing got hot. Grubnic is left with no choice—change the motor.

“The motor’s not junk but it was hurt,” Millican explains. “Even if we do get the motor changed out and the car turned around in time, we’re probably not going to have enough time to warm the motor up, which is usually when you most need to warm it up because you have to get all the ignition timing correct and that sort of thing. But we get it done, warm the motor up, get it on the ground, and start to push it out.”

With Millican’s adrenaline pumping, the team’s got a few minutes left to make it up to the staging lanes before…the rain comes. Delay. One hour.

“So now weather conditions are changing rapidly,” Millican says. “We lose lane choice to Torrence by 1/1,000th of a second—crazy close. And I don’t think we have it set up much differently than when we were racing Brittany, so we now gotta adjust that. Finally, the rain goes away.”

You know the rest. The fan. The autographed chest protector. The semi-final victory over Torrence. Then the win for the Wally over Pritchett, despite getting “absolutely killed” in reaction time (0.59 to 0.90).

“Today, my team was so good, reaction time didn’t matter.”

Officially: Millican’s 3.81 topped Torrence’s 3.95, while the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster’s 3.82 topped the Papa John’s car’s 3.88.

Millican breaks down the winning run: “Leah’s dropping cylinders, Grubby is keeping it nice and steady, straight down the track, the win light comes on, and I go crazy.”

Jack Beckman, the Fuel Funny Car driver for Don Schumacher Racing, who had just lost his own final by 4/1000ths of a second, runs up to Millican, saying, “Take your helmet off! Just take a few breaths. Take it easy. Breathe. That’s it. Buddy, you have no idea. This is huge. Congratulations.”

Millican catches his breath, before he is swept up in celebration. He’s placed inside a truck that will take him to Wally. Ron Capps, Funny Car driver for NAPA Auto Parts, of all people, says, “This is all for you. These people, they’re cheering for you. This stage is yours.” Class. Capps then tells Millican, “This is going to be remembered as one of the top 10 moments in all of NHRA history. This is like Dale Earnhardt winning the Daytona 500. Nobody deserves it more.” Gulp.

Millican holds up his first Top Fuel Wally up for his fellow Tennesseans—for the entire racing word—to see. The remaining 400-plus fans, mostly locals, erupt into song:

Wish that I was on ol' Rocky Top
Down in the Tennessee hills
Ain't no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top
Ain't no telephone bills

Once I had a girl on Rocky Top
Half bear, other half cat
Wild as a mink but sweet as soda pop
I still dream about that

Rocky Top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol' Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee

“That was perfect,” says the proud native of Drummonds, Tenn.

Of course, nothing officially has happened until Jimmie Millican—Daddy—watches it on TV.

“Both my sisters back home know I’ve won, so they sneak into the house while Daddy’s watching the tape-delayed broadcast from his bed. Then they FaceTime me so I can watch daddy watch me win. I don’t know how, but they’re able to sneak the phone around the bedroom door without him seeing, so that’s really cool.”

The calls and messages pour in. A former team member reminds Clay that he earned his first IHRA win back in ’98 on Mother’s Day. Darrell Gwynn, a Top Fuel driver whose career was tragically cut short following an accident at England’s Santa Pod Raceway that left him paralyzed in 1986, calls to offer his well wishes.

“I’m at over 360 messages, and I’m still jacked up,” Millican says. “In Hebrew, there is no word for such a thing as a coincidence. The guy who gave me Dalton’s autograph, that’s no coincidence. The last event where Doug won with Kasey Kane was at Bristol—no coincidence. And our winning time with a 25 on the end of it there. In my home state. And on Father’s Day, which is a day…it’s a day I don’t look forward to much anymore. But I think I am OK with it now. I believe it was meant to be today. I am so proud of this team.”

In his 254th—that’s a No. 25…with a 4 on the end—NHRA Top Fuel start and the ninth final round of his career, Millican becomes the 103rd different driver to win in Top Fuel.

Finally, for Dalton.


Wally Stats

Named After: Wally Parks, NHRA founder

Age: The first Wally was given to race winners during the 1969 season

Model: Top Gas racer Jack Jones

Height: 18 inches

Weight: 12 pounds

Materials: Composite-standard metal mix, including zinc and aluminum

Base: Solid walnut

Plating: Antique brass

Last Won By: Clay Millican

2017 NHRA Top Fuel Standings

(following Bristol)

1. Steve Torrence: 954

2. Leah Pritchett: 943

3. Antron Brown: 934

4. Tony Schumacher: 801

5. Doug Kalitta: 678

6. Brittany Force: 649

7. Clay Millican: 639

8. Troy Coughlin Jr.: 443

9. Scott Palmer: 432

10.Terry McMillen: 424

Next Race

June 22–25

Summit Racing Equipment Nationals

Norwalk, Ohio

Get Ready, Get Set, Help!

Build Up Your Business and Help Raise $150,000 for Children

by Gates Corporation

Posted on June 27, 2017

Purchase a Gates Building Blocks Business Kit for just $99, and $25 will go directly to Ronald McDonald House Charities.*


Automotive Distribution Network Announces Business Services Programs

Automotive Distribution Network Announces Business Services Programs

by Network Staff

Posted on June 15, 2017

The Automotive Distribution Network has partnered with a variety of service providers to enhance the group’s business service programs for members and shareholders.

“The Network has negotiated significant contracts with some new and valuable national business service providers to arm our membership with the tools they need to simplify business practices while saving money,” said Cora Roark, director of business services. “Regardless of size or geographic location, staying on top of the needs of our members and their customers is vital to improving the group’s bottom line,” she stated.

Through the enhanced program offering, Parts Plus, Auto Pride and IAPA members and shareholders will save on these value-added programs: Car rentals, supplemental insurance, office and computer products, fleet management, employee benefits and HR, waste management, freight, uniform rentals, fire protection, credit card processing and much more.

Warehouse distributors, auto stores, service dealer and headquarters staff will all be able to take advantage of the menu of services offered. The group is planning to add additional services in the very near future including mobile phones and temporary employment companies.

Millican Runs Hot & Cold

New Parts Plus/Great Clips Dragster Starts to Warm Up with a Win Light Amid a Heat Wave in Englishtown

by Network Staff

Posted on June 12, 2017

As the temps kept rising during the 48th annual NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Clay Millican and the Parts Plus/Great Clips team were looking to get things cooking in their new Top Fuel dragster.

The new car replaced a well-used chassis that had carried Millican down the track more than 350 times before being replaced in the two weeks between the Topeka and Epping events.

“We came into the weekend looking to really make some noise in this new Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster because if you were to think of our drag races in golf terms, Englishtown is a major,” Millican explains. “People would probably say Indy is the Masters, so I would say Englishtown is like the U.S. Open. Every year I’m very proud to have the opportunity to try and win the NHRA equivalent of the U.S. Open. I look at Englishtown as a race you want on your resume.”

To use another golfing metaphor, Millican and Stringer Performance crew chief David Grubnic probably wished they could have taken a Mulligan after a swing and a miss in Friday’s first round of qualifying, with the Parts Plus dragster hazing the tires by the 330-ft mark.

“We really came out aggressively in Q1 because we knew there was a lot left in this car after Epping,” Millican says. “We knew it would be hot Saturday, so we went after a good number from the get-go Friday night. After we made three consecutive runs down the track in this new race car last week, Grubby [Grubnic] felt confident we could push it a little harder than we did in New Hampshire, but that first run got away from us.”

If Q1 was the equivalent of a shank, then Q2 was a beauty of a drive straight down the middle of the fairway for the Parts Plus/Great Clips team. As the sun was setting, the new dragster’s header flames shooting over the rear wing all the way down the dragstrip was a sight to behold, as Millican ran a 3.786@314.53 mph to temporarily shoot to the No. 5 spot. If Millican hits that top 5, Grubby’s happy, regardless if it’s 1st or 5th.

With reports of a major heat wave hitting the Englishtown area Sunday, Grubnic again elected to push the car hard in Q3 to maintain that top 5 spot. For a moment, it looked like the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster was on a great pass until it started dropping cylinders on the top end, settling for a 3.849@297.75. Millican’s Q3 incremental times: 60ft-0.860 sec.; 330ft-2.169; and 660ft-3.075@280.19 mph.

Grubnic aimed to get the car all the way down the track in the final round of qualifying, accomplishing that objective with a clean pass for the Parts Plus/Great Clips car with a 3.815 mph@311.56 mph. However, Millican dropped out of the top 5 to No. 8 as qualifying ended Saturday. Millican's Q4 incremental times: 60ft-0.841 sec.; 330ft-2.150; and 660ft-3.051@280.49 mph.

No. 8 ended up being a great spot for the team, as that meant Millican would be breaking out his oversized nametag for another first-round matchup with No. 7 qualifier Terry McMillen. This weekend, the two racers shared more than a similar surname: McMillen’s 3.783 was only slightly quicker than the Parts Plus Great Clips dragster’s 3.786.

Entering Sunday, Millican was 8–3 against McMillen in prior events, including six first-round wins out of eight. “If we keep this up, Terry and I are going to have a lot of fun with these nametags all year. Overall, we felt pretty good about qualifying. We had a strong run going there in Q3 that likely would have helped us maintain that top 5 spot. We still felt like we were in good shape to start Sunday, and we knew there was a lot more there in the car. That heat is going to be hard to beat for sure.”

With weather conditions at 88 degrees and relative humidity at 45 percent, and a track temperature of 114 degrees, Millican and McMillen lined up Sunday in a race that appeared for a brief moment to be as close as the two drivers’ names.

McMillen surprised Millican by seizing the starting-line advantage, but the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster took command of the lead by the time they zoomed past the Christmas tree, and Millican never trailed again en route to turning on the win light with a 3.806@314.3 mph. The Parts Plus/Great Clips team advanced to a second-round Sunday showdown with Steve Torrence.

By the time second round started, temps had hit 92 degrees, with a track temperature of 123, making it a tricky, sticky dragstrip to navigate, as the heat makes it more difficult to generate wheel speed. Nonetheless, Millican was looking to keep playing a hot hand in second round against Torrence, whom he'd beaten in eight of 15 previous elimination matchups.

This time, however, Torrence cooled off the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster, taking the starting-line advantage and never looking back for the win, as Millican went up in smoke early.

Torrence kept the heat turned up the rest of the way, scorching his final two competitors in the semis and the final round to win the event and climb to the No. 2 spot in the standings. Torrence is now just seven points behind Antron Brown, with both drivers bumping previous No. 1 Leah Pritchett down to No. 3. Millican remained in 7th, with Brittany Force increasing her lead over the Tennessee native at 6th.

NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings

Through Englishtown

1. Antron Brown: 878

2. Steve Torrence: 871

3. Leah Pritchett: 842

4. Tony Schumacher: 766

5. Doug Kalitta: 648

6. Brittany Force: 609

7. Clay Millican: 520

8. Troy Coughlin Jr.: 412

9. Terry McMillen: 392

10.Scott Palmer: 380

Next Race

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

June 16­–18

Bristol, TN

New Car Debuts in New Hampshire

Brand-New Parts Plus/Great Clips Dragster Rallies to Qualify 7th But Exits Epping Early on Sunday

by Network Staff

Posted on June 5, 2017

Clay Millican was even more optimistic than usual when the Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel team traveled to Epping, where the Tennessee native was a dominating force at New England Dragway in his IHRA days, winning three times.

Plus, Millican was fired up about rolling into the NHRA New England Nationals with his all-new Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel dragster and chassis. Despite earning two No. 1 qualifying positions thus far in the 2017 campaign and reaching the semis twice, the previous car had more than 350 runs on its back half, so a change had been in the works for about a month.

Of course, the team was perhaps a little more tuned up than usual prerace, as this marked the first car change Millican’s crew has performed. Nonetheless, Millican was happy to see the team’s work ethic in getting the car ready and going nonstop since Topeka to get it done.

“I’m proud of the team for getting the car change done so quickly,” he says. “I’ve said all along that preparation is such a big part of this sport.

“Following Topeka, the entire crew headed right back to our Nitro Barn in McLeansboro and got down to it. I went there for a bit to ensure the little details were how I like ‘em, so there’d be no surprises come this weekend. Our guys were ready and organized to help make the changeover go as smoothly as possible, they sure did a good job.”

Heading into the East Coast Swing with a new car, crew chief David Grubnic was a little more stoic, yet fully expected Millican to qualify in the top five and keep the team’s streak of round wins going, knowing that consistency is the key to unlocking the door to the Countdown playoff in the 2017 Mello Yello Series.

“It’s a new car, but we’ve been planning this for a while, so I don’t expect anything less than what we’ve been able to achieve as a team all year—most important, consistency,” explains the Stringer Performance crew chief.

In Friday’s homerun session, Millican felt like a freshly licensed teenager sliding into his first ride, as he entered the cockpit of the new Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster and prepared to swing for the fences.

“I can’t wait to see what this new chassis can do,” he said just before Q1. “Plus, Epping is a bit of a homecoming for me. Even though I am a Southern boy, I have considered Epping my ‘home field’ of sorts dating back to my success there during my IHRA days. I love the New England Dragway any time of the year.”

Millican’s enthusiasm was tempered in Q1 when the new car smoked the tires early on. Then the same thing happened again in Q2 in the same spot. Uh, oh.

“The first two runs did not go as planned at all, obviously. We went about 20 feet on each run. That’s not what Grubby or anybody wanted. But it’s a new car, so we’ll get it figured out in time for Q3. You can bet on that.”

Illustrating the power of positivity once again, Millican and the team rallied on Saturday with quite a race alongside Antron Brown in the third qualifying session. The Parts Plus/Great Clips driver kept the new car hooked up and hitting on all eight to punch his ticket to the show with a 3.747@323.97 mph. Millican's Q3 incremental times: 60ft–0.846 sec.; 330ft–2.121; and 660ft–3.002@286.38 mph.

“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” Millican says. “What a race! That was a heck of a run—I mean, the motor felt nice, just so smooth and perfect. Grubby felt like there was more there though, so went for it in Q4.”

Grubby’s estimations proved to be correct, as the brand-new Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster bolstered Millican to his quickest pass of the weekend in Q4, propelling the popular Parts Plus driver into the top half of the field, with a 3.727@324.83 mph. Millican's Q4 incremental times: 60ft­­–0.844 sec; 330ft–2.114’ and 660ft-2.982/287.84 mph.

“OK, I think I love this new car, and the feeling is now mutual—we just had to get to know each other a little bit first,” Millican says with a laugh. “On the other hand, we didn’t get into the top 5, but all things considered, I think we’re pretty pleased to be the No. 7 qualifier in a new car.”

Millican would also have a new elimination-round opponent heading into Sunday, as he had never previously faced No. 10 qualifier Tom Coughlin Jr when it counted on Sunday. Grubnic felt good about their chances, coming off that Q4 run, thinking the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster had a great chance to turn on the win light by simply going straight down the track completing the run with a solid 3.79

Instead, Coughlin seized the starting line advantage and surged ahead with Millican in pursuit. The new Part Plus/Great Clips dragster completed the run, but not as quickly as expected, with Millican’s 3.831@312.78 mph falling to Coughlin’s 3.784@328.54 mpg. Coughlin’s margin of victory over Millican was 0.0591 seconds or approximately 27 feet.

“Well, we didn’t get what we wanted there, but even if we had, Coughlin’s number was the third-best of the first round,” Millican says. “We did a lot of things right this weekend. I’m especially proud of how we made some adjustments and got us qualified in the top half. This is only the first stop of the Eastern Swing, so I’m pleased that we come right back next week in Englishtown, where we can usually count on tremendous support from our sponsors and their partners and customers.”

This weekend, along with the new car came a new associate sponsor in Strutmasters, a company that specializes in air-to-non-air suspension conversion kits and is widely considered a leader in the world of suspension.

“Despite not turning on that win light today, I am relieved to find this is a great new car, and we won’t have to look into turning this thing back in under the Lemon Law,” Millican deadpanned. “It’s unfortunate Brittany Force picked this weekend to get back on track [winning the event], as we dropped a spot to her in points, but we’re not too worried about where we are right now at No. 7.”

2017 Top Fuel Point Standings

(following New England)

  • 1. Leah Pritchett: 809
  • 2. Antron Brown: 777
  • 3. Steve Torrence: 746
  • 4. Tony Schumacher: 712
  • 5. Doug Kalitta: 571
  • 6. Brittany Force: 528
  • 7. Clay Millican: 466
  • 8. Troy Coughlin Jr.: 379
  • 10.Scott Palmer: 328

Next Race

NHRA Summernationals
Old Bridge Township Raceway
Englishtown, N.J.