SONOMA, Calif. – With the second stop on the NHRA Western Swing looming and just four races until the Countdown to the Championship, Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil / UNOH Top Fuel team are hoping the July 29-31 FRAM/Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway begins their push to stay in the Top 10.
McMillen’s team was able to stay in the Top 10 for most of the season, riding the wave of early season successes with round wins over defending champion Larry Dixon in the season opener, Shawn Langdon in Topeka and a semi-final appearance in Atlanta. Lately round wins have been hard to come by for McMillen and with recent performances by Vandergriff and Grubnic, McMillen finds himself in the 12th spot – just 3 points from Vandergriff and 11 points behind Grubnic.
“We’re stripping the car to the frame,” McMillen said after leaving Denver. “There’s a bug in there somewhere and we’re going to find it. We’ve got sea-level conditions in Sonoma – similar to what we had in preseason testing in West Palm Beach. We’re pulling out all the stops. We’re going to put our car back like it was in Florida testing and make a run at the Countdown.”
The Western Swing can be grueling, especially for a single car team like McMillen’s. “Last season the Swing ended in Denver,” McMillen said. “This season we started there. We hurt more than our fair share of parts in Denver, so we have to make sure we have enough pieces and parts to get this dragster back to Indiana.”
McMillen and some of his team members were able to take a break from the Western Swing action this week, spending two days on the water near Napa at the Lake Berryessa Boat and Jet Ski Rental. “It was good to get-away from the grind for a few days and play on the water,” McMillen said. “Plus when we were in the Napa area I had a chance to meet Jimmy Vasser, Sr. and visit with him for awhile. He’s a wealth of racing knowledge, even in drag racing. Having him around our pit is an asset.”
Jimmy Vasser Toyota and Chevrolet will support McMillen’s team this weekend with team transportation and a tow vehicle. “The folks up there at Jimmy Vasser Toyota are laid back and fun to talk with,” McMillen said.
Full Throttle Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:15 and 6:15 p.m. on Friday, July 29, and at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 30. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 31.
ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 90 minutes of qualifying coverage at 5:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, July 30. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours and 30 minutes of eliminations coverage beginning at 11 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 31.