MEDLEN WINS SECOND STRAIGHT IN CASTROL SYNTEC MUSTANG Eric Medlen beat Castrol teammate Robert Hight in the semifinals and then stopped Ron Capps in a classic final round to win the 18th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Mid-South Nationals at ...
MEDLEN WINS SECOND STRAIGHT IN CASTROL SYNTEC MUSTANG
Eric Medlen beat Castrol teammate Robert Hight in the semifinals and then stopped Ron Capps in a classic final round to win the 18th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Mid-South Nationals at sweltering Memphis Motorsports Park.
In the final, Medlen drove the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang to the quickest time of eliminations (4.911 seconds) to win for the second straight week and for the third time in the last four races.
Eighth in points at the mid-season break, 237 points off the pace, Medlen now moves to Indianapolis Raceway Park for the 51st running of the Mac Tools U.S.Nationals as the hottest driver in the category. In the last four races, he 's made up 166 points and is now fifth in the standings, just 71 behind Hight, who retained the lead.
Hight, the No. 1 qualifier for the sixth time this season in the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford Mustang, had the quickest car in each of the first two rounds and appeared headed for his fifth final round of the season. However, against Medlen, his 4.966 wasn't quite good enough to cover a 4.939, the quickest time of the weekend in the less favored right lane.
Despite the semifinal exit, Hight had a spectacular weekend that included his winning the eighth and final starting spot in the Skoal Showdown bonus race contested in conjunction with the U.S. Nationals.
"Our goal was to get out of here with the points lead -- and we did that," Hight said. "And to make it into the Showdown was unbelievable. But saying that, losing is never any fun even when it's to your teammate."
Medlen, who won last week at Brainerd, Minn., and last month at Seattle, Wash., credited his father, crew chief John Medlen, and the SYNTEC crew for his fourth career victory.
"Right now things are going our way," he said. "We're making the right calls. We're getting some breaks here and there. But, right now, the biggest thing is, more than ever, everybody's working together. I just can't say enough about my dad and Jason (assistant crew chief Jason Morton) and all the guys. They worked their hearts out today, but it didn't stop with them.
"We had all of John's guys (the crew on the Castrol GTX Start Up Mustang)," Medlen said, "half of the them over at our trailer, half of them over at Robert's. Then, after the semis, Robert's guys were over there with us, too. You always want to win for yourself, but honestly, we don't care who wins as long as it's one of these Castrol Fords."
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 56, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 8th at 4.982 seconds, 292.90 mph.
Race results: Beat Cruz Pedregon; lost to Robert Hight.
Notable: Extended sport's longest qualifying streak to 363 consecutive races.
Quotable: "We're still okay but it's not what we wanted to do. It was a great weekend for the team but not that great for me, but we'll fix that and get back after these guys." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 32, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 5th at 4.951 seconds, 294.37 mph.
Race results: Beat Tony Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight.
Notable: Went to the final round for the third time in four races.
Quotable: "Maybe it was luck, maybe it was skill or maybe it was like John said, just destiny. Whatever it was, I wish we could bottle and sell it because it's good stuff." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 36, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.883 seconds, 295.72 mph.
Race results: Beat Jack Wyatt, John Force; lost to Eric Medlen.
Notable: Earned sixth No. 1 qualifying bonus of the season and, as a result, claimed the eighth and final starting spot in the Skoal Showdown bonus race.
Quotable: "We had a car good enough to win. The good thing is that got out of here with the points lead and now we're going on to Indy." -- ROBERT HIGHT.