EPPING, NH — With the IHRA Drag Racing season rounding the corner towards the home stretch, Terry McMillen, Hoosier Thunder Motorsports team owner, will bring both of his cars to the Amalie Oil North American Nationals. He hopes to continue the team’s late season rally for the September 5 – 7 event.
McMillen, who drives the Amalie Oil Top Fuel Dragster and fields the Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny car, driven by Paul Noakes, has rallied his teams to one of the most dominate performances of a two-car team in recent history. After a sluggish start to the season, both Amalie sponsored cars have gone on to compete in eight final rounds (four each) and earn two wins (one each) through eight races. Those performances have fueled both McMillen and Noakes into championship contention for the 2008 season. McMillen’s Top Fuel entry currently sits in third position just 79 points behind defending champion Bruce Litton and 152 points behind the rookie points leader Spencer Massey.
“We’re happy but not satisfied,” McMillen said. “This is our first year owning a Top Fuel operation. From where we started the season to where we are now is an accomplishment that we’re happy about,” he said. “But we set out to win a championship for Amalie Oil and it looks like we’re going to fall a little short. But we’re not giving up. We have a chance at catching Bruce [Litton], but he’s trying to catch Spencer [Massey], so I guess we’ll just have to race for it and see where this thing ends up. I believe we could catch them if we had two more races.”
The story has been similar for the Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car. After driving his Funny Car and Top Fuel dragster in 2007, McMillen decided to go north of the border, relying on Canadian Paul Noakes for the driving responsibilities and Canadian Les Mellows for the tuning. The Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car has matched the Top Fuel team’s performance (four finals – one win) and currently holds down the number two spot in the championship hunt.
In any other season of Alcohol Funny Car, Noakes would most likely be leading the pack. In 2008, he’s fighting to maintain his second spot over multi-time World Champion Rob Atchison. “We’re racing for the second spot,” Mellows said. “We’ve missed several opportunities to keep Laurie [Cannister – points leader] close. We just haven’t been able to capitalize on those opportunities.”
Noakes, considered by many to be one of the best ‘leavers’ in the business, has made the most of his first full-season quest for a championship. “It’s been a bit of a dream season,” the Ontario teacher said. “I tell the kids in my classes to never give up on their dreams. I’m proof that if you stay at it long enough and work hard enough you get your chance. I want to make the most out of these last two races. We’re not giving up.”
Noakes and McMillen will make the most of their next opportunity, this time for their sponsors title event, The Amalie Oil North American Nationals in Epping, NH. Noakes will take the track Friday night and attempt to better his performance from last season where he and Mellows teamed up for a semi-final appearance.
McMillen will also try and better his semi-final performance from last season when he drove the Foley-Lewis Top Fuel Car.
“This is Amalie country,” McMillen said. “We want to be better than we have to be for this event. If we can bring home two trophies for Amalie at their event it would make our season. Andrew, Don, Denny, Harry and all of the hard working associates of Amalie deserve a win at this event. We’re going to pull out all of the stops to see of we can make that happen.”