Terry McMillen's Amalie Motor Oil Top Fuel team brought chassis construction in-house for the first time during the 2019 season, a move that paid near-immediate dividends for the Indiana native. What started as front-halving a Don Schumacher Racing constructed chassis will develop into an all-in house-built piece in a few weeks.
McMillen will roll out the new chassis at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, an event that means a tremendous amount to the racer. The piece, put together by crew chief Rob Wendland, comes with what McMillen calls significant technological advantages over the 2019 design.
"We're really close on it now," said McMillen. "It's basically just finishing up the tabs and whatnot before we have the thing fully put together."
The majority of independent teams entered in Top Fuel this weekend run chassis built by either Don Schumacher Racing or Morgan Lucas Racing. It's not uncommon to see a Brad Hadman chassis (James Maroney's got Hadman tube in Phoenix this weekend) and while it's rare, you may still see Murph McKinney pipe occasionally (Terry Totten says hello).
The Indiana racer, who is looking to get back into the NHRA Countdown to the Championship after missing the playoffs in 2019, wouldn't divulge how exactly his new chassis will improve his program. He did say it could come with both performance and reliability advantages throughout the season, which, apart from the potential cost advantage, is a great reason to take the operation in-house.
McMillen narrowly missed the Countdown in 2019 in part because of a problem in the clutch of his 11,000-hp machine. He qualified seventh at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com but fell to Clay Millican in the first round after losing traction and running a 4.640.