Grand Bend, Ont. — Paul Noakes has driven the Amalie Oil InstiGator in back-to-back final rounds in each of the last 2 events. The mid-season charge has been enough to tighten the points chase, but not enough to make up any ground on Laurie Cannister, who beat Noakes in both final round appearances.
“We just want to continue this mid-season push,” Noakes said as he greets fans and sponsors at a London media and cancer benefit event. “Laurie is going to be tough to catch if someone in this funny car class can’t put the brakes on her. We’ve had three shots at her this season and have come up empty handed. It’s going to be tough, but I don’t think anyone has conceded the championship yet. We’re not racing for second place yet,” he said with a smile.
Les Mellows, crew chief agrees, “We are still running for number one in the championship, but we need to focus on those that stand in our way and compete at a high level every opportunity we have. The points will be tallied in five more races.”
Qualifying for the Mopar Canadian Nationals kicks off this Friday, July 18 and continues through the weekend with eliminations and champions crowned on Sunday, July 20. The race has Noakes and tuner Les Mellows a little more focused than usual. The Ontarians live just minutes from the Grand Bend Motorplex and consider this their home event.
“Competing in our home town is an honor,” Mellow said. “It allows us to show our craft and let them (local fans) understand our passion and commitment to the sport. We started here (Grand Bend area tracks), so we want them to know that hard work will pay dividends. All our peers are hoping for the same recognition and good fortune that we have had. It’s a lot of pressure to perform at a high standard. It’s just a bit more important personally to reward our immediate family and friends with our best. The sacrifices our supporters make for this team deserve a reward. That trophy is their reward. We want nothing less for them.”
“I’m really proud of what our funny car team has accomplished,” team owner Terry McMillen said. “Paul, Les and the entire crew have represented us well in this class. They’re some of the most focused and determined drag racers out there. If anyone can make a run at this championship it’s this group of guys. I know they’ll give it everything. I’m confident we’ll be as competitive as anyone out there.”