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 media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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