Class Ceiling

NHRA recap: For Millican, life is a highway at Route 66 Nationals

Matt Smith (left) and Angie Smith are a dynamic duo. Stripbike.com

Life is a highway and it's called Route 66!

Just ask Clay Millican as he cruised down 66  in his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster, to a swell 3.894 @ 289.32 mph, making this his third career win. It was the highlight performance of the JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Elwood, Ill.

Amid all the fanfare , Leah Pritchett and  DSR teammate Antron Brown participated in a "Charity Challenge”  sponsored by Papa John" Schnatter . Pizza + horsepower!  Now's a party!

Pritchett was in a supercharged 2017 Dodge Challenger (that things got a HEMI!)   beating out Pizza Czar Papa John Schnatter's prized 1971 Camaro Z28, the same car he bought for $1,600 when he was 15. Can you say Grudge Match? Being a Chevy girl, I must say with all due respect,  Papa John would have had that win in the bag if not for that sneaky red eye as Leah was slicking down the track with transmission oil.  

Talk about a class act, way to go Matt Smith, Angie (Smith) is a proud girl as you post up on the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle! 

Angie and Matt are my pick for the Dynamic Duo in the NHRA PSM. 

And the Wally goes to:

Top Fuel -- Clay Millican, 3.894 seconds, 289.32 mph def. Leah Pritchett, 4.501 seconds, 192.08 mph.

Funny Car -- Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.073, 310.63 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.310, 230.21.

Pro Stock -- Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.574, 210.67 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, Foul - Red Light.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Matt Smith, Victory, 6.816, 195.87 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.862, 193.24.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues June 8-10 , 2018 at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond. 

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The Rockets are collecting a lot of young talent. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Good parents are protective of their kids. Some helicopter parents are a little too protective and take it too far. Kenyon Martin Sr came out and wanted his son traded to a contender where he can flourish in a winning environment. He felt as if Jr wouldn’t be able to flourish as much as he thinks his son can in Houston. With the arrival of the number three overall pick, most likely being a frontcourt guy, they must’ve thought his playing time would decrease. Less time means less development means less money you can ask for on the next contract. I get it. I’m a parent. I understand. But there’s a point in which you have to be realistic.

Things like this are actually a good problem to have. It speaks to the Rockets having an abundance of talent, young talent at that. Whenever a team has a bevy of young talent in the NBA, they’ve been losing a lot and have stockpiled high draft picks. That, or they’ve developed a bunch of young guys that are now getting playing time and are on the verge of perhaps breaking out. Teams love it because crafting and shaping their future is easier when there’s a ton of options. They can choose to play and develop the guys they want to keep and trade the ones they don’t…provided they have any value.

Sr may think Jr is a future All NBA guy, and maybe he is, but he hasn’t been able to beat out Jae’Sean Tate for playing time in that tweener 3-4 combo position. One of the main things people point out is his ball handling. If he can’t handle the ball and make plays, he can’t play effectively enough in this system at that position. While he’s been able to give them valuable minutes, he’ll have to continue to improve and fight for those minutes. With the possibility of yet another player at that position with lofty draft status and expectations coming in (not to mention a unique skillset), the writing was on the wall.

When Sr came out recently and stated Jr is committed to staying here and getting better and Jr reiterated that at media availability this week, it helped quiet down the rumors. Would I be surprised if he’s traded? Not at all. He’s a good young athletic player who’s improved his shot. He could be a valuable rotation player for any team that has him. Do I want him to stay? Of course! I’d love nothing more than this team to grow together and stay together.

That’s in a perfect world and that’s somewhere we don’t live. Acquiring this much talent has paid off in the recent past. I wrote last week that this team can do what the Warriors and Celtics did if they continue to draft well, develop their talent, and surround their core with the right kind of role players. If playing time and meeting their potential for too many players becomes a problem (cap-wise, playing time, or any other reasons), they can always make deals and turn that talent into more draft picks. OKC did it with James Harden and flipped assets into about 3 million draft picks over the years. Blueprints are out there for the team to follow. Let’s keep hoping Rafael Stone can push the right buttons at the right times and continue to build this team back into a contender.

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