EDMONTON, Alberta – He’s pulling double duty this season, racing in both his Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car and the Foley/Lewis backed Torco Nitro Top Fuel Dragster. In just his fifth Top Fuel event, Terry McMillen, an IHRA fan favorite, drove through a tough field including teammate and number one qualifier Doug Foley to earn his first Iron Man.
“It was just an unbelievable feeling to win,” McMillen told drag racing website CompetitionPlus.com. “I’ve always said Edmonton is one of my favorite tracks. To come out here and win it is an awesome deal. Perseverance by the Torco team was a major factor today. We went out there and got it done. I just can’t say enough about my team, Evan Knoll (mentor/sponsor), Tim Lewis, and Doug Foley (team co-owners).”
McMillen’s road to victory would be tough. After three qualifying sessions, the Torco Nitro team scratched it’s way to the number seven position for eliminations. The first round of eliminations paired McMillen against the number three qualifier Mike Strasburg. Strasburg’s lost traction would give team Torco the opening they needed to face teammate Doug Foley in the semi-final round.
“Doug put some consistent numbers down all weekend,” said McMillen. “He ran a 60 (4.645 et) and the 58 (4.581 et) for the number one spot in qualifying. I knew our team had a lot of work to do if we were going to beat Doug in the semi’s.”
On paper, the match up looked tough for McMillen, who’s car was matching Foley’s early track numbers, but pitching blower belts from half track on. Foley would take McMillen at the light and edge out a lead at the 330 foot marker before hazing the tires, sending McMillen to his final round match up against Jeff O’Neill.
McMillen saved the best performance of the weekend (4.729 et) for his race against the rookie O’Neill, playing spoiler for the young drivers debut. “There aren’t any easy races in drag racing,” McMillen said. “When I pulled up to the starting line I wasn’t just facing a rookie driver. With Bruce Litton and Richard Hartman over there you know there’s going to be a race for the finals.”
“Evan Knoll, Amalie Oil, Flatout Gaskets, and all of our sponsors have made this fun for me,” McMillen said. “It’s only because of them that I am able to be in this game. To be successful in this game has been a Godsend.”
“Darrell Friesen and all the folks from Jet Label & Tape kept us motivated this weekend,” McMillen added. “It was great to get this win for them at their home track.”
Foley was pleased with his team car performance. “Our team car has been to the finals many times, but this is the first time that our team car has won an event,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier for Terry and everyone on that team. They’ve worked very hard this year. They deserved this win.”
The win puts McMillen back in the hunt for a Top Fuel championship. He currently sits sixth in points, just a few rounds from Bobby Lagana and Doug Foley for the fourth spot.
In 2005 Terry received his Top Fuel licence under the guidance of Evan Knoll. “Evan has given many folks the opportunity to race,” McMillen added. “This win was huge for all of us. I have to believe when the results were posted Evan had a big smile on his face. I wasn’t sure who was more excited when we spoke on the phone. This win carried a lot of emotional feeling for both of us. This win is dedicated to Ward Knoll (Evan’s Father) and Jason McMillen (Terry’s son). Evan and I are truly about our families and one of our goals was to win for our loved ones.”
McMillen would also compete in Alcohol Funny Car with his Amalie Oil InstiGator powered by Torco Race Fuels. The team was looking forward to Sundays eliminations. Tuned by Andy (Mac Daddy) McMillen and TV Tad Heflick, the team posted the second quickest qualifying effort on Saturday setting up the race day tune up. The first round match up against Rob Atchison proved shaky for the InstiGator. About 60 feet into the run the car went into violent tire shake, ending the chance for a double win. While the InstiGator team was disappointed, they did have reason to be extremely excited about the direction the Funny Car program is headed. “Andy and Tad put a lot of testing and work into our new setup,” said McMillen. “That old Gator car is starting to run really well. We just got really aggressive with the setup against Rob and it caused us to shake.”
The next stop on the Knoll-Gas Nitro Jam drag racing series is the MOPAR Canadian Nationals Presented by Castrol in Grand Bend, Ontario Canada, July 20-22.