BRAINERD, Minn. (August 20, 2017) – Terry McMillen didn’t have the race he had hoped for, yet the ‘small team with a big dream’ remains eighth in points with one race remaining before the playoff style Countdown is set. McMillen’s AMALIEⓇ Motor Oil XTERMIGATORⓇ Top Fuel Dragster fell short in an opening round loss to Scott Palmer after qualifying in the ninth spot.
“We certainly didn’t have the stellar weekend we were looking for to follow our success in Seattle,” McMillen said. “We sheared the bolts off of the blower pulley in the first round, so that certainly didn’t help our cause. We’re not going to take anything away from Palmer and his team. They ran some career best numbers this weekend and had a great run against us. They did what they had to do to stay right there with us to stay in the top ten.”
McMillen holds points advantages of 73 over Palmer, 146 over Coughlin Jr. and a 154 over Langdon. The only race remaining is the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, August 30 – September 4, which has point values multiplied by 1.5 for the prestigious six day event. There are 190 points available to the winner of the event. The winner would also need to be have the low elapsed time for each of the five qualifying sessions to earn all 190 available points.
While McMillen still hasn’t officially clinched a playoff spot, he likes his chances. “I’ve been doing a little math,” McMillen joked. “We can’t all win the race in Indy. If we show up and qualify like we have all year, I can’t come up with a scenario that would drop us three spots.”
But, things can happen. McMillen missed the playoffs last year by just one point and in 2011 made the playoffs briefly after beating Rod Fuller in the opening round and then losing the much needed points to an oil down penalty. McMillen has made seven appearances at the U.S. Nationals since going full-time in NHRA. He has two round wins and three DNQs in those seven appearances.
“This is a different team, a different year,” McMillen explains. The argument is well taken. In 2017, McMillen has an average qualifying position of ninth, an average qualifying time of 3.810 seconds that also includes a new career best elapsed time and mile per hour (3.723 at 327.19). The team has also qualified with a 3.79 or better 10 out of 17 races so far this season.
“We have had huge improvements in every aspect of our race program. I think it’s a real testament to our crew chief,” McMillen added. “Rob Wendland is doing a stellar job. He and Bob Peck (car chief) have done an outstanding job dealing with adversity to get this far. We’ve had mid-season crew changes that can add a dynamic to the team. Plus, when you start running harder, the life span on parts gets much shorter. We don’t have the depth of parts like the mega teams do. We’ve accomplished a lot – and we’re far from done.”
The U.S. Nationals is also a race within a race as the Traxxas Nitro Shootout offers eight teams an opportunity to race for $100,000. The eight position is held for a fan vote and lottery style pick. Fans can vote by visiting the NHRA Facebook page or http://bit.ly/2017TraxxasShootout .
“We really appreciate everyone that participates in this voting process,” McMillen said. “I’d really like to think that fans aren’t just voting for me, but for our team. I really feel like we have a car that can contend for the Traxxas Shootout and for the Championship.”