Ron Capps was runner-up in the Funny Car finals at Route 66 Raceway. (NHRA photo)

NHRA Notes: Six Races In, Who’s On The Rise?

There have been 12 different winners across three categories during the opening six races of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Top Fuel has sent five different drivers to the winner’s circle, Funny Car has been dominated by a trio of wheelmen and four names have been written in the Pro Stock record books.  

Will a new star be born at the New England Nationals in Epping, N.H., this weekend?

Winless No More

A pair of NHRA veterans and their teams relished a moment of triumph during the May 21 Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill.

Top Fuel’s Clay Millican defeated Josh Hart in the final round of eliminations, handing the Rick Ware Racing driver his first win in five years.

Clay Millican on track during the NHRA Route 66 Nationals. (NHRA Photo)

As his first NHRA race was at Route 66 Raceway 25 years prior, it was a memorable day for the 57-year-old.

Millican’s victory was also the first for RWR after the team joined NHRA late last year.

Meanwhile, in Funny Car, Tim Wilkerson flipped a final win light for the first time in 609 days and 33 events.

He kept defending champion Ron Capps at bay in the last elimination at Route 66, surging to the winner’s circle.

It was the first triumph for Maynard Wilkerson Racing, the team Wilkerson, 62, now co-owns with Joe and Cathi Maynard. Over the offseason, the trio merged their respective operations — Tim Wilkerson Racing and JCM Racing — into one.

The 27-year Funny Car driver had initially hoped the union would help propel him toward his first Funny Car championship, which might not be out of the question. With a national event win under his belt, Wilkerson has moved to fifth in the standings.  

Multi-Time Magic

Justin Ashley is the only Top Fuel entrant to have won multiple races this year.

In his fourth year of professional drag racing, the New York native has been an undeniable force on the drag strip, beginning with his victory in the season-opening Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway. As he considers New England Dragway to be his home track, Ashley hopes to utilize his homefield advantage and add a third line to his win column this weekend.

Fourth in the standings, he’s perfectly poised for another title fight.

Robert Hight (left) celebrates with teammate Austin Prock at the Circle K Four-Wide Nationals. (NHRA Photo)

In Funny Car, series veterans Matt Hagan and Robert Hight lead the class with their respective Wally collections.

Hagan has three, while Hight recently claimed a second at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

“We did need that win after those two losses,” Hight said. “That got us right back in the hunt.”

Hagan leads the standings, while Hight is third. Both are chasing a fourth Funny Car championship.

As for Pro Stock, Dallas Glenn has been the man of the hour.

The KB Titan Racing driver has stacked up three event victories in the last three months, nearly doubling his career win total — now seven. It is only his third full season competing in the NHRA category. Glenn’s recent win light at the Route 66 Nationals padded his championship lead, giving him a 168-point advantage over Matt Hartford.

The Pro Stock contingent is sitting out the weekend at New England Dragway, but will return to competition June 9-11 at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.

Hight, DeJoria Hit Milestones

Hight earned his 600th elimination round victory at the Route 66 Nationals. He was the fourth Funny Car driver — others include John Force, Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon — and the 13th professional NHRA driver to do so.

Alexis DeJoria also hit a milestone while at Route 66 Raceway, making her 200th career start in a Funny Car and was the first woman to do so.

On The Rise, Or On The Fall?

Single-event winners this season include Austin Prock (Top Fuel), Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Camrie Caruso (Pro Stock).

But as the clock continues to tick, eyes turn to those who have yet to pick up a Wally.

Defending champions Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Capps (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) are all winless this season. Other drivers who have been close, but have come up short include Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Josh Hart (Top Fuel), DeJoria (Funny Car) and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock).