INDIANAPOLIS (September 5, 2011) – In one of the wildest rollercoaster rides of his career, Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil/UNOH/Motor State Distributing Top Fuel team kept the suspense of the 10th and final spot in The Countdown to the Championship in question until the very end of round two of the 57th Annual MAC Tools U.S. Nationals. McMillen and his team would end their quest just 8 points shy of their desired goal, but not before giving NHRA fans something to remember.
In the opening round of qualifying McMillen posted the third fastest elapsed time (3.893) and held the top speed of the event (317.64MPH) until Saturday night. But things didn’t come easily for the Elkhart, Ind. based team. Friday’s stellar run broke several clutch components leaving the team struggling trying to find the right combination to run with the new parts for the remaining qualifying attempts.
Still, McMillen’s team managed to qualify 10th needing to just go one round further than David Grubnic to capture the 10th and final spot into The Countdown. Sunday’s matchup with Rod Fuller gave McMillen the chance he was hoping for. The race with Fuller was decided early, with Fuller smoking the tires. McMillen would add the drama when his car crossed the finish line in the biggest ball of fire of his career.
“That run would have to make my career highlight reel,” McMillen said. “I’ve never had anything that bad happen. The car dropped something like three intake valves and basically destroyed everything on the motor.” The win coupled with the later loss by Grubnic would have given McMillen the lock for the 10th spot. The big explosion and subsequent oil down left McMillen with the need to put points leading Del Worsham on the trailer to secure the elusive spot.
“I’m very proud of my guys,” McMillen said. “We brought back a pile of junk parts after that run and they turned around gave me a competitive car to go out there and try to take out Del. It just sucks because we could taste it. For a couple of seconds we had our spot in The Countdown. I guess we’ll just have to put on our spoiler caps and work hard on our tune-up for next season.”