EDMONTON, Alberta – The River Cree Resort and Casino IHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals provided several bright spots for Terry McMillen, driver of the Amalie Oil / Wolverine Boots and Apparel Top Fuel Dragster, including the top spot in qualifying and a semi-final finish.
McMillen captured the top spot in qualifying during the rain shortened second session. McMillen’s 4.834 second pass provided plenty of excitement and fireworks for the Canadian fans in attendance. The aggressive tune-up the team chose for the run would push the head gasket and torch the engine block and head, providing the Canadians with an American style nitro 4th of July fireworks show.
“We wanted to put up a big number for Jet Label and Northern Provincial Pipelines”, McMillen said. “Darrell and Rob from Jet Label and Dwight from Northern Provincial give us so much support here in Alberta we wanted to do well for them.”
While McMillen’s number one qualifying effort won’t go down in the record books, the incremental numbers would prove to be a stronger performance than recorded.
“We dropped a hole early in that run and then pushed out the head gasket around the 660 foot mark,” McMillen explained. “We thought if we could run on seven cylinders and run the last 300 feet with one of the head gaskets out, we would have something to work with in the last session.”
In preparation of the final qualifying run, the Indiana based Hoosier Thunder team put in a new motor during a brief rain storm. With a cooler track and temperature, McMillen’s team tuned-up the Nitro “InstiGator” for another run. “We just couldn’t figure out how much horsepower that track wanted,” McMillen said about his final attempt. The 4.834 second elapsed time from earlier in the day would be enough to hold off Bruce Litton’s 4.848 second pass.
Sunday began eliminations and the first round saw more smoke than speed
from all of the Top Fuel entries, including McMillen who would peddle
his way to victory against European Champion Smax Smith in round one.
That win for McMillen would set up a round two match up with Mitch King
with King taking lane choice.
McMillen and King would leave the line together, McMillen with a slight
advantage (0.001) on the tree. At the 60ft cone McMillen extended his
lead to 0.070 seconds and again at half track to 0.084 seconds. But
that’s where things begin to change. McMillen’s car would began to
smoke the tires, Terry grabbed the hand brake and peddled the car in an
effort to get the Goodyear slicks to hook back up. The 8,000 horsepower
motor spun the tires again and fish-tailed the rear end. A second
attempt would produce the same results, this time with the rear end on
the other side of his lane. The third and final attempt would cost
McMillen another head and head gasket.
“It’s race day,” McMillen explained. “I didn’t see Mitch and I didn’t
hear him until the third time I peddled it. We’re here to win this
thing and I wasn’t going to let up until the motor quit.”
While the weekend didn’t end the way he had hoped, McMillen was happy
with his decision to make the nearly 2,000 mile journey. “The fans in
Alberta are certainly reason enough to make the trip to Edmonton,”
McMillen said. “The fans are always thanking us for coming here to race
and it’s really us that can’t thank them enough. Those fans are the
reason we’re here. Plus, Rob and Kim Reeves do such a great job helping
all of the racers feel at home. We’re already looking forward to coming
back in 2010.”
McMillen was also happy to spend time with some Amalie executives that
made the trip to Edmonton. “It was exciting to see some of the new
relationships that were made this weekend for Amalie. We’re hoping that
those can turn into something positive for everyone in the future.
The next stop for the Hoosier Thunder team will be the Pinks All Out
next Saturday night July 10th, where Terry will make a pass in his
nitro burning dragster.