MEDLEN WINS AGAIN; FORCE BREAKS OUT OF SUMMER SLUMP Eric Medlen drove the Castrol SYNTEC Ford to its second victory in three races Sunday, edging boss and teammate John Force by .012 of a second in the final round of the 24th annual Lucas Oil ...
MEDLEN WINS AGAIN; FORCE BREAKS OUT OF SUMMER SLUMP
Eric Medlen drove the Castrol SYNTEC Ford to its second victory in three races Sunday, edging boss and teammate John Force by .012 of a second in the final round of the 24th annual Lucas Oil Nationals a Brainerd International Raceway.
It was Medlen's second straight victory at BIR and it propelled him strongly into contention for the 2005 POWERade Championship.
Medlen used a big starting line advantage to overcome Force's best-of-the-day 4.787 second effort in the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford. Nevertheless, Force's runner-up finish demonstrated that the 13-time series champion's performance problems apparently are behind him.
After losing in the first round at each of the last four races, Force qualified No. 3 (behind Medlen and Tommy Johnson Jr.) and then beat Gary Densham, Del Worsham and Johnson before losing to Medlen in the 25th all-Castrol Funny Car final.
Force's performance enabled him to to within 22 points of teammate Robert Hight who, despite a first round loss at the wheel of the Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford, managed to leave the race with the lead.
Meanwhile, Medlen leapfrogged Whit Bazemore and Johnson and moved into fifth place, just 107 points off the lead by winning for the third time in his career.
"I've just got a lot of confidence in this car right now," Medlen said. " It's responding the changes my dad (crew chief John Medlen) makes to it. It' s just a good hot rod. (Against Force), the sucker shook about the same place where, on the run before, it smoked the tires. And I said, 'come on, you can make it,' and it finished shaking and just took off.
"Our philosophy is just get the win light," he continued. "It doesn't matter whether it's the car or driver as long as we get there first and if you lose, you lose together, too. John is the one who taught us that. He's a great motivator. Every team he's had has been successful. You just have to learn from him and do it his way and it works. It works good."
After setting a BIR track record (4.730 seconds) during qualifying, Medlen stopped Phil Burkart Jr., Tony Pedregon and Ron Capps to earn the opportunity to race against Force in the final round for the first time.
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.762 seconds, 324.05 mph.
Race results: Beat Gary Densham, Del Worsham, Tommy Johnson Jr.; lost to Eric Medlen.
Notable: Won his first racing rounds in the last five events to move back into contention for the 2005 POWERade Funny Car championship
Quotable: "Our car's back where it should be but we need to do a little work on the driver, that's all. Bottom line, Eric and Robert are doing a heckuva job and now it's time for me to hold up my end." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 31, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 1st at 4.730 seconds, 327.35 mph.
Race results: Beat Phil Burkart Jr., Tony Pedregon, Ron Capps and John Force.
Notable: Qualified No. 1 and set a BIR track record of 4.730 seconds; by winning for the second time in three races, moved up to fifth place in points.
Quotable: "It was awesome. Our car is responding to all the changes my dad makes. I've just got a lot of confidence in this car and this team right now. " -- ERIC MEDLEN.
ROBERT HIGHT, 35, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 10th at 4.813 seconds, 323.81 mph.
Race results: Lost to Cruz Pedregon.
Notable: Despite his second consecutive first round exit, kept the POWERade points lead for Team Castrol and John Force Racing.
Quotable: "We were behind all weekend and never caught up. It's very disappointing but all you can do is regroup and go out and win the next one." -- ROBERT HIGHT.
Aug. 19-21 O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals Memphis, Tenn.