SONOMA, Calif. — Racing on a small budget is tough and no one knows that better than Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil / UNOH Top Fuel Team. McMillen fell victim to points leader Spencer Massey in the opening round of the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, the second stop on the NHRA’s Western Swing. Massey reset both ends of the track record in defeating McMillen with a 3.777 e.t. at 328.62 mph.
“We’ve got the best sponsors in the world and we wouldn’t be out here without the help of each and everyone of them,” McMillen said. “But, we’re racing on a fraction of the budget of some of the teams out here and we have to run our parts to the very end of their life cycle.”
McMillen qualified 13th with a respectable 3.855 elapsed time during the second qualifying session, then struggled to get down the track on Saturday’s third and fourth rounds. “Actually we were pretty lucky on the eighty-five run,” McMillen explained. “The car was about to smoke the tires and somehow the track just came to us and saved that run. After Saturday’s attempts we knew there was something just worn out and it turn out to be our primary clutch fingers.”
The Elkhart, Ind. based team scrambled Saturday night and found a set of primary clutch fingers to purchase and install for Sunday’s matchup with Massey. The results; McMillen got down the track, just not quick enough to upset Massey. “The car was a lot happier with the new clutch fingers,” McMillen said. “We just didn’t have enough data to push it to the point needed to run those kind of numbers. We’ll keep trying. We’re not going to give up.”
Local sponsorship for the Sonoma race continues to grow for McMillen’s team. For the second year the team picked up support from Jimmy Vasser Toyota and Lake Berryessa Boat and Jet Ski Rentals. McMillen was also proud to participate in the SWECO customer appreciation event and thankful for the additional support that Mike Ziegenmeyer and SWECO provided for the race.
The next stop on the NHRA Full Throttle tour is third and final stop on the Western Swing in Kent, Wash. near Seattle.