This Week in Ford Racing NHRA Funny Car Â Eric Medlen, driver of the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car, heads into the U.S. Nationals with the confidence of winning three of the last four races on the NHRA circuit. Medlen talks about...
This Week in Ford Racing
NHRA Funny Car
Eric Medlen, driver of the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang Funny Car, heads into the U.S. Nationals with the confidence of winning three of the last four races on the NHRA circuit. Medlen talks about his momentum and his first time qualifying for the Skoal Shootout.
ERIC MEDLEN-No. 5-Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
TALK ABOUT YOUR MOMENTUM GOING INTO THE US NATIONALS. YOU HAVE WON THREE OF THE LAST FOUR RACES.
"Its important to go into the biggest race of the year with the most confidence as you can. Right now we've got - I don't know about confidence as being cocky, but confidence that we can get the job done. We can run the numbers and run with all the other guys right now. I think that we always could. So I think that's the most important thing. Kind of reassurance, so to speak, that we belong here. We're for real. The biggest thing, like you said, going into the biggest race you've got to have momentum. We've got it right now, but then again, like my dad said, that was a week ago, two weeks ago, and three weeks ago. That was in the past and the race is the future. So we have to continue to work hard. Just because we won the last two races everybody is just not going to lay down and say, 'Man, you guys go ahead.' They are going to be fighting harder than ever."
FINALLY FIGURING OUT THE NEW ENGINE COMBINATION?
"We are all running the same combination now. The other two cars ran the combo last year. Robert Hight's car has been running the combo for about two years now. We just switched over at the beginning of this year. The first five or six races it was really kind of a learning curve for us trying to get the thing to run, and be consistent. We changed so many things and we were having problems. Looking back, the problems were with the clutch system controller and that's about the only thing we didn't change. We changed the discs and all the stuff in it, but we didn't change the controller. So we just changed so many things and we just thought, 'Wow, man, this new combo is tough to get a hold of.' In reality it wasn't so much the combo but the one thing we didn't think about, the clutch controller. Ever since we fixed it and addressed that issue the cars been running real good. The car's been running real consistent and getting quicker every week."
Is that controller unique to each team oR is it A part that IS commonly available to every race team?
"All three of our cars have the same controllers. It's just one of those parts that is really finicky. Kind of like the old cliché, a part that you don't even look at or do much to. They sometimes foul up on you. It's a part that we took out of last year's car and it was working fine at the beginning of the year. The clutch systems work off of hydraulic oil, and the lines had some debris in it and it would get clogged up. So, the debris would go through and then be open and then plug up. During that time, one run the car would run like crazy, and the next run, without even touching it, it would blow the tires off of it because it had too much. And so we were scratching our heads thinking the combo is touchy. In reality, it was other circumstances that we weren't quite aware of."
Like the 50-cent part ruining the entire combination?
"It takes determination to work through all the problems with the guys. The whole time the guys and my dad are wanting to win. And every week we kind of get beat up pretty good. And you think, man, we are not doing anything different. I think the common perception is for people to kind of get lazy. Thinking we are not going to win, we'll just put it together here and see what happens. All of our guys know that that's not the way to get to the winner's circle. You've got to work hard all the time. The car doesn't know the difference between a match race or the U.S. Nationals. It just knows that at anytime it can hurt you and you had better be paying attention. If you don't watch it real close that thing will turn around and bite you."
WHAT'S GOING TO BE YOUR ATTITUDE Going into your first Skoal Shootout and facing the Skoal Car in the first round.
"Yeah, Tommy has to be the company favorite. And in my personal opinion Tommy is the hottest driver right now. He got a lot of practice pedaling the car last year. I was talking to him in Denver and he was saying that the one good thing that came out of last year was that he got to pedal the car a lot. And he got real good at it. He is the toughest driver out there right now. He is hot on the lights. He can pedal the car and they are running extremely good now. We will be up to the challenge in our Mustang. It's the eight best cars, and one could say it's the toughest race to win. Its will be cool to be there with Robert Hight. Not to brag on him, but he made the Skoal Showdown in a half of a season. He bumped Whit Bazemore and Ron Capps. He did us a big favor for Ford. He kept two of those Dodges out and he moved in. Man, what a job he has done. To make it into that thing in a half a season, I don't think that's ever been done. We got close last year, we were 10th, but we were 120 points away."
Is there a difference when you race a teammate in a round?
"Yeah, I think it is. Guys see it a lot of different ways. It kind of all depends on how the competition is doing at that tine. No matter what we are going to race each other and we go after each other as hard or harder than we do the competition."