Great feature on one of our crew members Kaylynn Simmons.
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (September 4, 2017) – It’s been an eight year journey for Terry McMillen. A goal and a dream that the Elkhart, Indiana resident can finally claim – making the NHRA Countdown to the Championship. His AMALIEⓇ Motor Oil XTERMIGATORⓇ Top Fuel team earned the eighth spot with six races remaining.
McMillen can often be heard telling anyone who’ll listen that ‘persistence outweighs resistance’. Meant to encourage those around him, some would often wonder if it wasn’t meant to assure himself of the reason to push forward in one of the most challenging motorsports for an independent team. Today, McMillen proved that persistence outweighed resistance and logged his name in the history of NHRA Drag Racing.
“We’re not done,” McMillen said. “We came here to get into the top 10 and we came here to win a race. I can’t thank everyone who’s helped keep this dream alive. Amalie Motor Oil and Flatout Gaskets have been with us from the beginning, plus Ross Pistons, Mahle, Allstar Performance and Genius Tools. Everyone of our partners played a big part in reaching this goal.”
McMillen’s team also earned the fan vote and won the lottery style drawing for the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for the second year in a row. This year McMillen made the most of it by defeating Antron Brown in the opening round with a 3.77 to Brown’s 3.80. McMillen posted a 3.76 in round two of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, but that wouldn’t be enough to outrun Tony Schumacher’s 3.74.
“I think it’s import for everyone to acknowledge the work that Rob Wendland has done to get our team this chance,” McMillen explains. “He’s taken a group of young men and women and is quickly turning them into seasoned veterans.”
The first stop in the NHRA playoffs starts at the zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, North Carolina, September 15-18.
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.”
SEATTLE (August 6, 2017) – Terry McMillen logged five round wins in the last two races, including a holeshot final round loss to Antron Brown in Seattle. McMillen’s AMALIEⓇ Motor Oil XTERMIGATORⓇ Top Fuel Dragster posted a 3.772 to Brown’s 3.776 for the close race.
McMillen’s road to the final round was a tough one, but a challenge that the team was ready for. His day started by knocking off points leader and six time 2017 winner, Steve Torrence with a 3.725, the second quickest of round one. Wins over Doug Kalitta and Lean Pritchett set the scene for the showdown with Brown in the finals.
“We had a fabulous weekend,” McMillen said. “I was the weak link today. Rob Wendland had this hotrod tuned to win. I’m really proud of my team. They worked really hard. We’ve got two new members of the team that are starting to gel with our program and they were a big part of our success today as well.”
While McMillen hasn’t mathematically clinched a spot in the NHRA post-season, but he has virtually stamped his card for The Countdown with five round wins in the past two races.
“We can’t count our chickens just yet,” McMillen said. “But we’re well on our way to meeting one of our goals of making The Countdown. I think we’re peaking at the right time to make a run in The Countdown.”
“Our second goal was to win a race,” McMillen added. ”We were really close today. We’ve got Brainered in two weeks and we can try and earn our way into the TRAXXAS Shootout with a win there and solidify our position in The Countdown. We’re still just a small team with a big dream and we can’t thank all of our partners and fans that have supported and encouraged us to keep chasing this dream.”
SONOMA, Calif. (July 25, 2017) – Terry McMillen, driver of the AMALIE® Motor Oil XTERMIGATOR® Top Fuel dragster has made some unusual promises in the past, but at this weekend’s 30th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, McMillen has reached a new level.
“I think the first thing I’m going to do when I get there is kneel down and kiss the track,” McMillen said as he traveled across Nevada en-route to Sonoma. “We had a rough weekend in Denver. We just couldn’t seem to get a handle on the altitude at the Mile High Nationals. So, Sonoma’s sea-level conditions will be a welcome site for me. I can’t wait to get this car back to the set up our crew chief Rob Wendland has worked so hard on that has had us competitive all year long.”
McMillen holds the eighth spot for The Countdown with just four races remaining to secure a spot in the Top 10.
“We’re looking at this and feel like we have to find at least three more round wins between now and Indy,” McMillen explains. “Traditionally we always seem to find a race on the Western Swing and do well. Even then, we always seem to come up a point short after Indy. I’m not sure three more round wins will be enough to secure a spot in the Top 10, but that should get us in the mix. Every little point, every round win counts, our AMALIE crew is going to do whatever it takes to get us there. An event win sometime in the next month would go a long way as well.”
As summer continues to countdown to the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis Labor Day Weekend, McMillen finds himself in his usual fight for a spot in the Top 10. This will be his strongest position in the standings at Sonoma, but one that does not leave a lot of comfort room for the Elkhart, Indiana team owner and driver. McMillen has a small lead over Scott Palmer, Troy Coughlin, Jr. and Shawn Langdon, who are all within reach of each other vying for a spot in The Countdown.
“It’s really going to get interesting over the next few races,” McMillen continued. “We all control our own destiny at this point. That includes our team. We are kind of leading our pack right now and the only way to continue to do that is to go out there and beat the best to stay where we are. I’m as confident as I have ever been at this point in the season and can’t wait to get things started in Sonoma.”
The Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals will feature two rounds of pro qualifying at 4:15 and 7 p.m. on Friday, July 28, and two final rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 29, at 1:10 and 4:20 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 30. The event that will be televised on FS1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 1:30 p.m. (PT) on Sunday, July 30. It marks the 15th of 24 events in 2017 and the second of three stops on the NHRA Western Swing.
JOLIET, Ill. (July 9, 2017) – After qualifying 11th for the Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals, Terry McMillen and the AMALIEⓇ Motor Oil XTERMIGATORⓇ Top Fuel team fell to Shawn Langdon in the opening round of eliminations. McMillen had hoped to add to the narrow points margin between his team and the teams of Shawn Langdon, Scott Palmer and Troy Coughlin, Jr. who are all battling for the tenth and final spot in The Countdown. McMillen remains in the eighth spot after Chicago.
“We certainly missed an opportunity today,” McMillen said after the loss. “It was a tricky track for us and we were just overpowering the track all weekend. Power is a good problem to have.”
“We’ve got five races between now and Indy,” McMillen continued. “Today is not the end of the world. This is a team of fighters. We’re like a bunch of pit bulls. We’ve got a car that will run and we’re going to stay after it and get this car in The Countdown for AMALIE, Flatout Gaskets, Genius Tools, Ross Pistons, Allstar Performance and all of the great sponsors that have stuck with us all these years.”
McMillen also wanted to thank Scott Wahlstrom of Motor State Distributing for taking in the role of team chef this weekend. “Scott comes out here with Steve Koth and his crew, spends their entire off weekend cooking great meals for our crew. We can’t thank them enough. A fed crew is a happy crew.”
The next stop on the NHRA Mello Yello tour is the MOPAR Mile-High Nationals near Denver, the first race of the Western Swing. Qualifying in Denver begins July 21 with eliminations on Sunday July 23rd.
NORWALK, Ohio (June 25, 2017) – WIth six races remaining before the NHRA Countdown begins, Terry McMillen and his AMALIEⓇ Motor Oil XTERMIGATORⓇ Top Fuel team made a statement in the first round of eliminations at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio when they defeated Shawn Langdon on a holeshot. The margin of victory was just 0.077 seconds. In the second round of eliminations, McMillen took a starting line advantage over Brittany Force and led the race until Force passed him just before the finish line as McMillen experienced late race engine issues.
McMillen’s win over Langdon moves him from 10th to eighth in points in what’s shaping up to be a six race, four-way fight between McMillen, Langdon, Palmer and Coughlin, Jr, for the 10th and final spot. “You hear sports announcers say all the time that you have to win the ones you’re supposed to win,” McMillen said. “Competition is so close and tough in Top Fuel. I don’t know if anyone can really say they were ‘supposed’ to win any given round. I’m also not going to say that we were in a must win situation in that race with Shawn, but it certainly was a big win for us as this Countdown starts to heat up.”
“We’ve been down to the wire, trying to make the Countdown for so many years,” McMillen continued. “It always comes down to the U.S. Nationals for us and we’ve fallen short by as little as one point. Then we go back and look at the season and say ‘what if we would have won that round, or didn’t have that oil down’ and you count the lost points or missed opportunities. I think that we are going to be able to look back at Norwalk and say, ‘this is where our season changed for the better.’”
“We’ve had some great improvements so far and Rob Wendland and our team has done an outstanding job,” McMillen added.
After Clay Millican won his first race last week in Bristol, NHRA Statistician, Lewis Bloom noted that McMillen now holds the record for most NHRA starts without a victory. McMillen thinks that’s a stat that he won’t hold for much longer. “I’m really excited about where we’re at,” McMillen said. “I’d be really surprised if we didn’t go deep into eliminations in Chicago. Wendland really has a handle on this car right now and I think we can find our way to the winner’s circle soon.”
The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N Filters at Route 66 Raceway July 6-9.
NORWALK, Ohio (June 22, 2017) – Qualifying for the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals starts Friday for Terry McMillen and his AMALIEⓇ Motor Oil XTERMIGATORⓇ Top Fuel team and while winning the race is a goal, winning the opening round is just as big for McMillen. McMillen has reset his career-best elapsed time and speed this season but has struggled since an explosion two races ago in Epping, New Hampshire.
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world that Rob Wendland and his crew will get us back on track,” McMillen said. “This is the heart of the season. There are six races left before Indy and every round of every race is going to be crucial for us.”
McMillen has not had a round win since Charlotte, despite making solid qualifying efforts in the 3.70s. “The key for us is to get back to that consistency we had,” McMillen continued. “We lost to Leah in Atlanta with a 3.77 and then Clay in Topeka with a 3.76. Then we go to Epping and run a 3.73 and we think things are looking good. I think if we get back to that consistency, things are going to be fine.”
“I still believe an independent team can do this,” McMillen said. “Clay proved that last race with his first win. I couldn’t be happier for those guys. They’re keeping the dream alive for the independent team. It’s tough out here swimming against the tide of these team cars and alliances, but we’re too stupid to quit. We’ve come here to win.”
Professional qualifying starts tomorrow in Norwalk with eliminations on Sunday.
EPPING, N.H. (June 4, 2017) – The AMALIEⓇ Motor Oil XTERMIGATORⓇ Top Fuel team led by driver and team owner Terry McMillen experienced a career best weekend during qualifying. As in most sports, the thrill of success can often be followed by the disappointment of traumatic events. Such was the scenario for McMillen and it was all wrapped into one weekend known as the NHRA New England Nationals
“It really looked a lot worse than it was or could have been,” McMillen explained after his first round explosion. “Every piston and rod was in the motor. The intake manifold, blower and blower restraints are junk, but everything else is fine.”
McMillen’s Rob Wendland led crew qualified fifth for the event, the best starting position for the team since Denver 2012. McMillen reset his career best elapsed time in the second qualifying session with a 3.730 and then reset it again along with mile per hour in the third session when he posted a 3.723 at 327.19MPH.
“We were really feeling good about our consistency,” McMillen added. “We felt like it was our weekend to go deep into elimination rounds. What happened was really unfair to our team’s efforts and the farthest thing from our minds as to what the outcome would be. It was really unfortunate and in no way a reflection of our tune-up or maintenance program. The car started to lose traction early in the run and I slapped to throttle like I’ve done many times. We’re not 100% sure what happened yet, but something caused an explosion in the intake area and the rest of the story is sure to be part of a highlight reel. The car is back together and we’re ready to pick up where we left off in qualifying when we get to Englishtown next week.”
Professional qualifying for Englishtown begins June 9th.
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 21, 2017) – Despite consistent runs all weekend, Terry McMillen and the AMALIEⓇ Motor Oil XTERMIGATORⓇ Top Fuel team lost a close opening round match-up to Clay Millican. Millican’s 3.732 elapsed time outran McMillen’s 3.761.
“We’ve got a pretty consistent race car right now,” McMillen said. “We’re just going to keep sneaking up on making our early numbers better and hopefully start winning some more rounds. Rob (Wendland Crew Chief) has a great motor program and everything is coming back happy on that end. If we keep making good, fast, clean runs like we have been, we believe it will pay off eventually.”
For the second race in a row McMillen has posted the fastest losing time in the first round of eliminations. “It’s certainly frustrating,” McMillen continued. “It just goes to show how competitive the Top Fuel class is today.”
The next stop for the NHRA Mello Yello series is in Epping, New Hampshire, June 2-4 at the New England Dragway. It marks the first stop, of a four in a row race stretch, that has become known as the Eastern Swing. The Eastern Swing includes stops in Epping, New Hampshire, Englishtown, New Jersey, Bristol, Tennessee and Norwalk, Ohio.
McMillen will stay busy this Memorial Day weekend. He’ll be the Grand Marshall at the Kalamzoo Speedway this Friday (May 26) as part of the Lane Automotive and Allstar Performance night. He’ll also take the wheel of a stock car and participate in the Flip Flop Cyber Stock class.
On Saturday, May 27th, McMillen will make a car and driver appearance at the 29th Annual Lane Automotive Car Show.