BUDDS CREEK, Md. – Every race team evaluates their successes and failures and then compares the completed evaluation to the current situation. For Terry McMillen, driver of the Amalie Oil Top Fuel Dragster, the last 2 weeks have been an evaluation process that he can’t wait to put behind him.
“We’ve beat ourselves up pretty good these past two weeks,” McMillen said after failing to qualify for the Motor City Nationals. “It really hurts a lot to miss a race like that. That’s why I can’t wait to get back to racing. We can only beat ourselves up so much.”
The Motor City Nationals was the first event that the Indiana based team failed to qualify for this season. “John [Smith – crew chef] and I went over everything – back and forth – front to back. This is a great team and we have a good car. If we’re going to get in the hunt for our first championship, now’s the time to do it. We certainly can’t wait any longer to make our move.”
The bright spot for McMillen’s Hoosier Thunder team so far this season has been the Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny Car tuned by Les Mellows and piloted by Paul Noakes. “I’m really proud of what those guys have accomplished so far with the car,” McMillen said. “I know Les and Paul have had a few sleepless nights and they’re not going to rest until that car has a few trophies to boast about. But what they accomplished in Milan with career best ET’s and mile per hours – for not only the driver but the car too – I think that says a lot about how far they have brought that team along.”
“Les has this saying he uses all the time, ‘No more Mr. Nice Gator’ when he refers to the InstiGator,” McMillen continued. “Everyone wants to talk about how much Laurie [Cannister] is dominating the class – and she has been dominating there’s no question about it. But I think Doc Carter proved that she can be beat. I also think that Les and Paul proved that our car can perform, and it will be a factor in Alcohol Funny Car.”
Getting into the championship hunt will begin for both of McMillen’s teams during this weekend’s President’s Cup Nationals (June 6-8) at the Maryland International Raceway. “When you look at the highs and the lows of the season for us so far, the last race would certainly be the low for our Fuel Car and one of the highs for the Funny Car,” McMillen said. “There’s a lot of opportunity to add to the highs. I’m not pulling a Babe Ruth here and calling a shot, nor am I going to be Joe Namath and assure a win, but I can say that we’ll have a better race. We didn’t load up and come this far to take any prisoners.”