“AMALIE has been sponsoring this race for three years now, so to make it to the race on Sunday is a big accomplishment for us. We’ve had this race circled since we left here last year and to be able to get that goal crossed off feels good,” McMillen said.
“We’re three races into this season and I’m happy with our progress. We’re not done improving yet, but if we keep sneaking up on it we’ll have a team to be reckoned with on Sundays shortly,” he continued.
McMillen made two consistent qualifying attempts on Saturday (3.88 and 3.87) to put him solidly into the field of 16 at #13 for the 46th running of the race. That would set up a first round matchup with McMillen’s nemesis Tony Schumacher. McMillen broke his winless streak against Schumacher last season, but Schumacher still holds a 15-1 advantage over McMillen.
McMillen and Schumacher had identical reaction times at the hit, but Schumacher would pull away for the win, posting a 3.77 to McMillen’s 3.86.
“We made a race out of it,” McMillen said of his first round loss. “I don’t have a 77 (3.77 second pass) in my playbook just yet, but I can tell you Rob Wendland (crew chief) has one in his playbook and we’re sneaking up it. They’ll probably say it is a surprise when we do it, but it won’t be a surprise to us. We’re working our way in that direction. Anyone who’s surprised when we do it just wasn’t paying attention to our progress.”
McMillen will line up and race again at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals March 27-29 in Charlotte, North Carolina.