No hard feelings after departure of NHRA tuner David Grubnic from Clay Millican team

David Grubnic emerged from an NHRA Top Fuel driving hiatus to become one of the class’ brightest and most effective tuners. This year he has orchestrated Clay Millican’s best NHRA season and kept Millican the only one who could stay close to steamroller Steve Torrence through the Countdown to the Championship.

But following the penultimate race of the season at Las Vegas two weeks ago, Millican’s Stringer Performance team dropped a bombshell that it is bringing in Mike Kloeber as crew chief starting in 2019. It made no mention of Grubnic. So naturally, the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series community has been buzzing about the circumstances that might be in play as Millican will rejoin Kloeber, who tuned him to six consecutive IHRA series championships.

Team owner Doug Stringer said Friday during the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif., that Grubnic’s departure from the Parts Plus / Great Clips / Strutmaster Dragster was the crew chief’s choice and a natural by-product of the sport.

“Nothing happened . . . Evolution, life,” he said. “It was a mutual agreement. Everything was mutual.”

Stringer and race-team partner Scott Gardner said they don’t know what team Grubnic is headed to, and no announcement has emerged following news of the change last week.

“We hired David four years ago, and he started out as a crew chief for us. At the time he wasn’t working, so we were very fortunate to hire him on here and to help develop and build a system to operate our race car. He had aspirations of being a fulltime NHRA Top Fuel crew chief. We had aspirations of being an NHRA Top Fuel race team. It all fit together very well,” Stringer said.

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