TEAM CASTROL DRIVERS HAVE AN 'ALMOST' WEEKEND AT INDY On a weekend on which Eric Medlen took the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang to the final round of the Skoal Showdown and on which John Force qualified the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford No. 1 for the...
TEAM CASTROL DRIVERS HAVE AN 'ALMOST' WEEKEND AT INDY
On a weekend on which Eric Medlen took the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang to the final round of the Skoal Showdown and on which John Force qualified the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford No. 1 for the first time this year, Team Castrol came up empty-handed at the conclusion of the 51st annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Medlen, the hottest driver on the circuit the last six weeks, was victimized by a loss of traction in the Skoal Showdown final that allowed Del Worsham to drive away to a $100,000 payday. Worsham went on to win the U.S. Nationals, as well, raking in an additional $110,000 including a $50,000 double-up bonus from the NHRA.
Force, bidding this year for his 14th series championship, lowered the IRP track record to 4.726 seconds to qualify No. 1 for the 125th time in his career and for the 10th time in the last 15 years at the U.S. Nationals.
Unfortunately, the 118-time tour winner wasn't able to turn that performance advantage into a victory. Instead, his car lost traction in the very first round, allowing Phil Burkart Jr. to claim an upset win. A similar fate befell Hight, who lost traction against Tony Pedregon.
Medlen, winner of three of four races coming into the Nationals, survived only one more round before falling to Frank Pedregon.
The upshot is that Hight lost the POWERade lead in the race forthe 2005 championship, but the five drivers who came into the race separated by 71 points now will move to Reading, Pa., separated by just 55.
"We'll be okay," Force said. "We didn't get hurt too bad. There are still five races left and I expect we'll all be there at the end."
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 56, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.726 seconds, 326.24 mph.
Race results: Lost to Phil Burkart Jr.
Notable: Claimed the 125th No. 1 qualifying award of his career; 10th in the last 15 years at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
Quotable: "We're gonna get this right eventually. When the car's good, the driver's been brain dead and when the driver does his job, the car fails. But we're still in the hunt (for the 2005 championship) and that's what's important." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 32, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.755 seconds, 320.66 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Bartone; lost to Frank Pedregon.
Notable: Was runner-up in his first appearance in the Skoal Showdown Funny Car bonus race.
Quotable: "It wasn't a great weekend, but it wasn't bad. We got to the final round in the Skoal Showdown, John qualified No. 1 for the first time this year and Robert's team won the Full Throttle Pit Crew Challenge." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 2nd at 4.731 seconds, 326.00 mph.
Race results: Lost to Tony Pedregon.
Notable: Lost the points lead to Gary Scelzi after spending five races atop the leader board.
Quotable: "It's very frustrating. We thought we had a really safe setup. It's disappointing to lose the lead, but the only time it's really important to be No. 1 is after Pomona (and the season-ending Auto Club Finals) -- ROBERT HIGHT.
ASHLEY FORCE, 22, Castrol/Hot Wheels A/Fuel dragster (Top Alcohol Dragster division)
Qualifying position and performance: 16th at 5.608 seconds, 261.62 mph.
Race results: Lost to Gene Snow.
Notable: Was not able to defend Top Alcohol Dragster championship she won as a rookie in 2004.