TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25, 2014) – Like the movie, Terry McMillen, driver of the AMALIE® Motor Oil Instagator Top Fuel Dragster, kept waking up on Sunday morning facing the same scenario over and over – a first round matchup with Steve Torrence. For McMillen, it was becoming a nightmare that would seem to never end. McMillen would drop five in a row before facing Torrence again for the sixth time in Topeka.
“I was starting to wonder if ‘Stevo’ (Steve Torrence) was the only guy I was aloud to run,” McMillen said. “No matter where either of us qualified, we were always matched up – and our team kept coming out on the wrong side of that deal. Torrence has a really good hotrod right now and I was beginning to think the only way to beat him was to kidnap him. I sent three of my biggest guys down there to lock him in a closet until Sunday night – but he heard about it and removed all of the locks from his trailer – so that didn’t work out. Steve and I are pretty good friends and we had fun going back and forth with all this – but when it came time to start the cars – it was all business. He wanted to beat us again as bad as we wanted to beat him. I’m just glad it worked out in our favor this weekend.”
The win over Torrence marks the end of McMillen’s longest dry spell in his NHRA career. The round winless streak covered 13 races and dated back to his last round win at the 2013 U.S. Nationals. McMillen and his team would have to overcome that streak without the onsight help of Richard Hartman who missed the race to attend his daughter Alexis’ graduation. Assistant Crew Chief Ray Murphy and veteran tuner Lance Larson stepped in to help Hartman make the tune up calls via text, emails and phone calls.
“At one point I had to joke with Richard and tell him to quit bugging us,” McMillen said. “He was blowing up our phones. I know he had to be a nervous wreck between not being here and watching his baby girl graduate from high school. But it’s family and I wouldn’t let him miss that day with her for anything.”
McMillen sees his team as a big family. “I think there would have been many good teams that would have imploded from what we just went through. We’re a pretty tight knit bunch. A band of misfits, a band of brothers – definitely the outsiders – but we’re all family and I love going into battle with these guys.”
“I’m not going to say we’ve turned the corner all the way yet,” McMillen continued. “But, if you look at our qualifying runs in Atlanta and again here in Topeka, you can see the marked improvement in consistency and you’ve got to be able to go down the track four times in a row if you’re going to win on Sunday. That’s what I’m excited about – and beating Steve Torrence of course.”
Next up for McMillen is the Toyota Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey May 29- June 1.