GRAND BEND, Ont. – For the third race in a row, Paul Noakes found himself in the final round of an IHRA national event. This time the Mopar Canadian Nationals provided a different outcome as the Les Mellows tuned Amalie Oil InstiGator Funny car prevailed, giving Hoosier Thunder Motorsports its first Funny Car victory ever.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these guys,” Terry McMillen, team owner said. “Paul and Les are the best in the business and they proved it again this weekend.”
Of the last 18 races that a Paul Noakes driven / Les Mellows tuned car has been entered, 11 have resulted in a final round appearance, five of those with wins, including the successful defense of the Mopar Canadian nationals.
Noakes and Mellows made the transition to McMillen’s Amalie Oil InstiGator at the beginning of the season with the goal of competing for a championship. “It took a little longer to get the car suited to Paul than we all had hoped for,” Mellows explained. “But now that he is becoming more comfortable with it we can begin to enjoy the results.”
“I’m starting to figure the car out,” Noakes told IHRA.com. “It’s not as easy as people think to move from one Funny Car to another. I could not do this without my guys, they keep making this car easier and easier for me to drive.”
The win puts Noakes back into the championship hunt. With four races remaining, Noakes sits in the third position, just 23 points from Rob Atchison and 190 points from leader Laurie Cannister. “We need to concentrate on one round and one race a time,” Mellows said. “It’s going to be tough to catch Laurie, all we can do is make sure there is no one between us and her, and then do the best we can to catch her.”
Both Mellows and Noakes were honored during the weekend event by DragRaceCanada.com. Mellows was recognized as Crew Chief of the Year and Noakes as Professional Driver of the Year for their accomplishments in 2007. “It’s quite an honor to be recognized,” Noakes said. “It’s our home track so it adds a little extra to the meaning.”
Paul Noakes, Les Mellows, Terry McMillen and the entire Amalie sponsored Hoosier Thunder team will be racing again at the Northern Nationals August 1-3 at the U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.