‘No more Mr. Nice Gator’
ROCKINGHAM, NC (April 17, 2008) — The Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car, powered by Torco Race Fuels, makes its way to the IHRA Spring Nationals in Rockingham this weekend looking to put a little more bite on its opponents when qualifying begins tomorrow.
While the team did well at the season opening race in San Antonio, (qualifying in the fifth position) the opening round match up with eventual event winner Laurie Cannister ended their chances early for a win.
While the Hoosier Thunder Motorsports team car sports a new crew, crew chief and driver, team owner McMillen is confident this will be the best year ever for the team’s signature ride. “I have all the confidence in the world with Les Mellows tuning and Paul Noakes driving that car,” McMillen said.
The car has long been associate with Amalie Oil and has been a friendly draw for fans of all ages. This season the team went back to an original concept drawing of the car and Michelle Barkett of the Amalie Oil marketing department had Gonzalo Jarmillo redesign the InstiGator to give it a slightly ‘meaner’ look with more realistic teeth and eyes. This prompted the team to adopt the slogan ‘No more Mr. Nice Gator’, not only for the new look but also for the new attitude towards getting the fan favorite to the winner’s circle for the first time.
Les Mellows is confident the InstiGator can be a dominant force in the class.
“We’re very positive about the situation,” Mellows said. “Paul is comfortable in the car and we worked on the car the Sunday after San Antonio to address some issues that needed addressing. The science of making a car go fast is a lot about what’s keeping it from going fast.”
Mellows is also confident that he can get his driver down the famed Rockingham quarter mile. “It’s a different track,” he said. “It’s a lot to do with the environment [surrounding the track]. It gets a little tricky about 200 feet out. If you can manage that, you’ve got a chance.”
Driver Paul Noakes is also excited about the Spring Nationals in Rockingham. “We are definitely looking forward to racing there,” Noakes said. “It’s one of my favorite stops. I’ve got my fastest ET there.”
When Noakes and Mellows teemed up in Rockingham in 2006 they posted a runner-up finish, but this is a different team and a different car. “There was a little adjustment going from a blue car to a green car,” Noakes joked. “I’m real comfortable in the car after just a couple of runs. We made a couple of adjustments and now it just feels like home.”