San Antonio, TX – Terry Mc Millen and the Amalie Oil InstiGator proved that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Powered by Torco Race Fuels, the team raced to a final round appearance against two time IHRA Funny Car Champion Rob Atchison and was awarded “Best Appearing Pro Crew” by the IHRA during the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals. The team leaves San Antonio just 7 points out of first place.
Mc Millen began his season opening quest for his first Iron Man from the #4 qualifying position with a 5.944 ET at 235.93 MPH performance. “That was good enough to get us in the show, but we knew we had to get better to continue,” stated Mc Millen. Mc Millen put out the call to his Co-Crew Chiefs Brent “Skinny” Lidgard and Tad “TV” Heflick to tune the machine for eliminations. With the help of crewmembers Dale “TV Dad” Heflick and Jim Walczak the team prepared the car for a first round appearance against the #5 qualifier Terry Munroe.
“NGK Spark Plugs provided the spark we needed and kept the fire lit on all cylinders,” Mc Millen explained. Terry and the InstiGator roared to 2nd career best 5.866 ET 240.94 MPH to advance to the semi-final round meeting against Mark Poyser.
Poyser was unable to answer the call for the semi-finals giving Mc Millen a competition single for the win and advancing him to a final round appearance against defending Funny Car Champion Rob Atchison.
Atchison’s machine was wounded badly during his bout with 5 time IHRA Champion Mark Thomas, leaving the London, Ontario team questionable for their final round appearance. “Rob and the Erickson team are an outstanding bunch of guys, they’ve helped us and other teams before, it was our chance to return a favor,” commented Terry. “We’re fierce competitors for about 6 seconds, the rest of the time we’re a pretty close knit bunch.”
Atchison set both ends of the track record (5.735 ET 243.77 MPH) and kept his car in the .70s before getting to the final round. Mc Millen knew it would take everything to beat Atchison in the final round. Mc Millen beat Atchison at the tree (.057 VS .068) but, Rob continued his assault on the .70s in the final round, leaving Mc Millen just short of the Iron Man quest. “Rob had a little more than everyone this weekend, we had a low .80’s car. It just wasn’t enough to catch Rob this time. Our hats are off to them, they did a great job. We learned a lot this weekend, we’ll get this car in the .70’s and see what happens in Rockingham in a couple of weeks,” said Mc Millen.
Evan Knoll, president of Torco Race Fuels and major associate sponsor for the Amalie Oil InstiGator threw out a challenge to Terry Mc Millen. Knoll, who pilots his own Top Fuel machine, challenged Terry to a head shaving for the first driver to win an event. “I’m not one to want to lose a challenge,” stated Terry. “But if it means I get to win a race before Evan, I’ll take that challenge!” Rhonda Mc Millen, wife and team co-owner had concerns. “I’m pretty sure that’s not a good look for Terry, but the Iron Man will more than make up for it.”
“It was a great weekend for us and for all of our sponsors,” stated Terry. We couldn’t do this without the great support of Amalie Oil, Torco Race Fuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Vintage Trailers, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams.”
Terry Mc Millen and the Amalie Oil InstiGator are preparing for the next stop on the IHRA racing circuit, the 35th Annual IHRA Spring Nationals, at the Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, North Carolina April 22-24.