Team Castrol Pre-Race Package/Medlen MEDLEN RIDES WAVE OF MOMENTUM INTO 51ST MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS Castrol SYNTEC Driver Aims for Fourth Win in Five Races INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. â€“ When the NHRA POWERade drag racing tour moves this week...
Team Castrol Pre-Race Package/Medlen
MEDLEN RIDES WAVE OF MOMENTUM INTO 51ST MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS
Castrol SYNTEC Driver Aims for Fourth Win in Five Races
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – When the NHRA POWERade drag racing tour moves this week to Indianapolis Raceway Park for the 51st annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the car to beat isn't John Force's national record-holding Castrol GTX® Start Up™ Ford Mustang, nor points leader Robert Hight's Auto Club of Southern California Ford.
It isn't the Brut Dodge driven by Ron Capps or even the Oakley Dodge driven by former NHRA Top Fuel Champion Gary Scelzi.
Nope. The hottest Funny Car on the circuit entering the biggest race in the series is the Castrol SYNTEC® Ford Mustang driven by second year pro Eric Medlen.
A former crewman on Force's car, Medlen has put himself solidly into contention in the hottest championship race in Funny Car history by winning three of the last four races including two straight. That resurgence has enabled the once aspiring rodeo cowboy to trim his deficit from 287 points, which was the margin by which he trailed two months ago, to just 71 points, the equivalent of four racing rounds.
"Things finally are going our way," Medlen said. "My dad (crew chief John Medlen) and Jason are making the right calls. We're getting some breaks here and there. But the biggest thing is, everybody's working together, not just the guys on our team, but the guys on John's team and Robert's team.
"As soon as one of these Fords goes out, the crew is over helping out on the cars that are still in (competition)," Medlen said. "We all win as one team and we lose as one team. That's what makes it work."
Medlen's team was doing more losing as a unit than winning in the first half of the season while his dad struggled to get a handle on a new engine combination.
"Last year, we had a real good season with a combination that was real friendly," Medlen said. "My dad was extremely comfortable with it. (However), the fact of the matter was that the thing probably wasn't ever going to run much better than 4.70 and that's with it's tongue hanging out.
"At the same time, John's car and Robert's car were running mid-4.60s without hurting a thing. The reality was that we had to (make a) change or get left behind.
"We probably could have run the old combo this year and it would have been fine at a lot of tracks. But at others, especially the better ones, like Indy, it wouldn't have been fine. So we changed and, as it turned out, it was just a steep learning curve."
Plagued by an inconsistent clutch controller (a problem eventually traced to sludge in a hydraulic line) and a carbon fiber body that, because of constant repair, was exceedingly heavy, Medlen won just 11 rounds in the season's first 13 races.
Since the crew found the clutch problem and trimmed the car's racing weight by 80 pounds, Medlen has gone 13-1 with victories at Seattle, Brainerd, Minn., where he won for the second straight year, and two weeks ago at Memphis, Tenn.
"Everybody wrote us off, basically," the younger Medlen said, "but we never gave up on ourselves. The guys never gave up. I knew my dad would figure it out and that our bad luck couldn't last forever. It usually kind of balances out over a whole season."
Now the 32-year-old Indy resident is focused on extending his streak by winning the world's most prestigious drag race.
"My dad won here with Tony (Pedregon) in the Big Bud Shootout (now the Skoal Showdown)," Medlen said, "but he's never won the Nationals and he's been here with a lot of teams. To win this race, with him, that would be unbelievable."