Baytown: Cory McClenathan preview

Going Rounds, Remembering Eric Medlen On McClenathan's Agenda at Spring Nationals The task this weekend is to earn more POWERade Series points in the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, something Cory McClenathan definitely wants...

Going Rounds, Remembering Eric Medlen
On McClenathan's Agenda at Spring Nationals

The task this weekend is to earn more POWERade Series points in the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, something Cory McClenathan definitely wants to do.

Nevertheless, McClenathan says his thoughts "are with the John Medlen family and John Force Racing family right now."

The death of Funny Car driver Eric Medlen spread a somber atmosphere over the NHRA drag racing family as all the teams prepared for the event. Medlen died March 22 of severe head injuries after a test accident at Gainesville, Fla., March 19.

"The healing process has to start," added McClenathan, who is in his 16th full season of Top Fuel competition. "Now we need to find out what caused Eric 's accident. There are going to be changes made. Things will be different and we have to learn to adapt to them.

"If we can make drivers safer . . . that's what I'm all about. I've been around here long enough to see a lot of things happen, from my accident last year at Bristol (Tenn.) to Eric's accident, and why one walks away and one doesn't, only God knows that.

"It will probably be a quiet weekend in Baytown."

If McClenathan has his way, he'll let the performance of the Carrier Boyz FRAM dragster do all the talking.

"We've run fairly well at Houston," he said. "We were runner-up in 2003 and 2005. Last year we qualified No. 1 and got to the semifinals. I think Wes (Cerny, crew chief) and Tony (Shortall, assistant crew chief) are excited with the way the car has been running.

"We had a great car at Gainesville. We had one of the quickest times in the opening round but got beat on a hole-shot by Doug Kalitta. That hurt us in points, so now we have to concentrate on winning rounds on Sunday and picking up points at every race so we can be among the top eight in NHRA's new Countdown to the Championship."

Only the top eight drivers will be in contention for the coveted title after 17 races, and that number drops to four after for more races, leaving the final quartet to fight it out in the last two events.

McClenathan is 10th with 118 points after three of the 23 races.

"The first race after the cut is the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis (Sept. 4)," McClenathan said, "and that will be here before we know it."

A Good Time in Bristol

McClenathan and J.R. Todd were at last week's NASCAR race at Bristol and gave the NASCAR crowd a taste of what 8,000 horsepower sounds like. They started their cars on opposite sides of the half-mile track and whacked the throttle twice. The noise brought cheers from the crowd, which reached 160,000 by the time the race began.

"That was fun and the fans sounded like they liked it, too," said McClenathan. "We had our JEGS.com car that we will be running at Bristol. I want to thank FRAM and all our sponsors for allowing us to run special cars like this."

-credit: cbr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan , Eric Medlen , J.R. Todd , John Medlen