Can Lightning Strike Two Times? Medlen Seeks First Career Win Rookie Aims for Summit Southern Nationals Title ATLANTA, Ga. (May 14-16) -- Eric Medlen was pleased to learn that new scientific evidence suggests that, contrary to popular myth,...
Can Lightning Strike Two Times? Medlen Seeks First Career Win
Rookie Aims for Summit Southern Nationals Title
ATLANTA, Ga. (May 14-16) -- Eric Medlen was pleased to learn that new scientific evidence suggests that, contrary to popular myth, lightning can indeed strike twice in the same spot.
The 30-year old rookie Funny Car driver is counting on it, in fact.
Winless in his first six races at the wheel of the Castrol SYNTEC® Ford Mustang, Medlen rolls into Atlanta Dragway knowing full well that it was here, exactly eight years ago, that his predecessor earned the first of his 27 tour victories for Team Castrol and John Force Racing.
When Tony Pedregon beat Force in the final round of the 1996 Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals, it not only ended his boss's four-year winning streak at Atlanta Dragway, it also sent shockwaves reverberating through the sport.
A stunned Force observed that "I may have hired my own assassin," a statement that proved somewhat prophetic when Pedregon won the 2003 NHRA POWERade Championship driving the same car in which Medlen now is trying to earn his first career victory.
Ironically, Medlen was a member of the winning SYNTEC crew in 1996, his first season at John Force Racing. It wasn't until the following year that he moved over one pit spot to work on the companion Castrol GTX® Ford in which Force set the current NHRA national Funny Car record at 4.721 seconds.
With Force, Medlen won 48 times, first as the supercharger technician and, the last two years, as the clutch specialist.
"I know how to win," Medlen said. "I've just never done it from this position. Everyone asks me about the pressure. I don't think there's any more pressure driving the car than, say, doing the clutch. You know your job, you're trained to do your job and if everyone does what they're supposed to do, you'll have a good chance to succeed."
Although, as a driver, he has yet to reach the winners' circle, Medlen has created some early shockwaves of his own.
After all, he comes into the Southern Nationals fifth in POWERade points. He's reached the semifinals in half of his starts, has qualified as high as second and has begun to find a rhythm in his driving.
Granted, he's lost some races he probably shouldn't have, but he's also earned some surprising victories. For instance, two weeks ago at Bristol, Tenn., he upset points leader Del Worsham in the second round in a race decided by an indiscernible .0026 of a second .
It earned the Indianapolis resident a $1,000 bonus from Motel 6 in a season-long program that rewards the winning driver of the race, regardless of classification, decided by the narrowest margin. It was his second such bonus this season.
For Medlen, though, it's not about bonuses. It's not even about being competitive.
"I'd be lying if I said we just want to get some experience (this year)," he said. "To be honest, we want to win every race. We want to win Atlanta and after Atlanta, Chicago and after Chicago, Topeka. But the first one, they say that's the toughest."
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