As the reigning and repeat champion of the IHRA's Top Fuel category, Clay Millican is unable to compete fulltime in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. This year, he missed 10 out of 20 NHRA national events on the schedule as he juggled commitments between the two sanctioning bodies. It has been a hectic way to drag race but this past week has been an even greater pressure cooker for the talkative, humorous driver from Memphis, Tenn. Several days ago, his mother, who manages the family-owned grocery story near Memphis, was shot in the head during a holdup. The gunshot wound was, fortunately, non-life threatening and Millican's mother is expected to make a full recovery. The alleged assailant has been apprehended. Friday evening at the 18th O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex outside Dallas, Millican shook off the aftershocks of his mother's harrowing experience and caused a few aftershocks of his own when he roared to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel with his 4.58/314.57. "After I ran the 4.58 I was able to call my mom and she listened to the last two pairs of cars run down the track to see if the number was going to hold up," Millican said. "I was able to give her the No. 1 qualifier so far. When I went to see her at the hospital after she was shot, the first thing she asked was whether I had packed for the trip." Millican's rise from a wannabe Top Fuel driver to a champion in one professional sanctioning body with title potential in a second is as inspiring a story as any in the sport. Traveling from event to event on his own money just to remain visible and possibly be in the right place at the right time should a team be in need of a driver, Millican got his chance three years ago when hired by successful businessman Peter Lehman to take the wheel of his Werner-Continental dragster. This year, Millican has qualified for every NHRA event in which he has entered, has qualified as high as second three times, and has advanced to three semifinals. He is 15th in the POWERade standings and has hinted on more than one occasion that his team could run the full NHRA schedule in the foreseeable future. But right now, he's grateful his mother survived a traumatic attempt on her life this week. Bill Stephens covers the NHRA for ESPN and ESPN.com.