Richmond, VA – Terry McMillen and the Amalie Oil InstiGator, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels, growled back into the IHRA Funny Car points race at the Virginia Motorsports Park. The event marked the second time in three races that the team has made a final round appearance. The InstiGator team leaves Virginia third place in IHRA points.
“It was a great week for our team,” exclaimed an excited McMillen. “Anytime that you get a chance to go rounds, it’s a good thing. It’s good for us, it’s great for our sponsors.” The week leading into the 5th Annual AC Delco Nationals kept the team very busy. An appearance at West Mifflin, PAâ€™s Clara Barton Elementary School began the week as McMillen was the featured speaker at the schoolâ€™s anti-drug assembly.
McMillen also completed a television spot for Hotrodnewz TV that will air later in June on Fox Sports Net.
The Amalie Oil InistiGator Funny Car, powered by TORCO Racing Fuels was honored to appear on a poster inserted into a special edition of Saturday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Times-Dispatch also included coverage of the InstiGator on Sunday’s front page (The paper has a Sunday circulation of more than 225,000). “We’ve got some of the best partners in the racing industry. Our job is to bring exposure to all of our quality partners, including Amalie Oil, TORCO Racing Fuels, Flatout Gaskets, NGK Spark Plugs, MSD, Performance Graphics, Powershield Coatings and Crane Cams,” said McMillen.
The Gator Growls
The race started Friday afternoon as team InstiGator made it’s first qualifying attempt. “We set the car up little soft for the first pass,” explained Co-Crew Chief Brent “Skinny” Lidgard. Our goal was to get a down the track with a good ET and not hurt the car.” The InstiGator posted a 6.163 ET which would qualified the team in the 9th position, but not good enough to make the new eight car field.
The second qualifying attempt provided a brief bit of excitement, but ultimately proved uneventful. After the car launched, a quick release mechanism malfunctioned, allowing the steering wheel to remain in McMillen’s hands, unattached to the car. “Needless to say that will get your attention,” stated a surprised McMillen. “It’s never happened to me before, but other drivers shared their experiences with me. I’m just thankful that we were able to keep the car off of the wall and out of the other lane.”
The Amalie Oil InstiGator would have a final attempt Saturday morning to make the event where 19 other Funny Car teams would fight for one of the eight available spots.
“The gloves were off,” stated Co-Crew Chief Tad “TV” Heflick. “We had one chance left and we weren’t going home early!” The final qualifying attempt paired McMillen against two-time Funny Car Champion Rob Atchison. McMillen took a hole shot and turned on the win light, placing the Amalie Oil InstiGator team solidly in the field in the second position with a 5.864 ET at 240.21 MPH. “While it wasn’t an elimination round, it felt good to get a win light against Atchison and more importantly to get a number 2 qualifying spot,” said McMillen. “My crew chief’s, Skinny and TV Tad, haven’t had a day off in a while. Our whole team including Rhonda, Carrie “CareBear”, TV Dad, Charlie, Jim and Zak did a great job. Our team is coming together and our team work is getting better. We know hard work pays off.”
McMillen eliminated 5-time World Champion Mark Thomas and Jim Sickles to make it to the final round for a rematch of the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals finals against 2-time World Champion Rob Atchison. McMillen registered phenomenal reaction times all through eliminations (.023, .019, .037), but even a hole shot against Rob Atchison could not change the final outcome. “We’re still chasing that elusive Iron Man. If we keep putting ourselves in the path of opportunity like this, we’ll get our Iron Man. Right now we’re concentrating on consistency and working towards the championship,” said McMillen. “We’re in a good spot, it’s only getting better from here.”