Medlen Runner-Up at Topeka Rookie Eric Medlen beat his boss and then his predecessor in successive rounds, reaching the first final round of his brief pro career before losing to Funny Car points leader Whit Bazemore in the 16th annual O'Reilly...
Medlen Runner-Up at Topeka
Rookie Eric Medlen beat his boss and then his predecessor in successive rounds, reaching the first final round of his brief pro career before losing to Funny Car points leader Whit Bazemore in the 16th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Summer Nationals at Heartland Park-Topeka.
Although his Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang overpowered the racetrack in the final, denying the 30-year-old a victory that would have extended the team's streak to six straight at Topeka, Medlen did leave with a track record time of 4.739 seconds. He also moved up to fourth place in points behind teammate John Force, whom he defeated in round two, and just ahead of teammate Gary Densham.
"We raced some giants (today)," Medlen said. "First you had 'Big John,' who's a real giant, the winningest driver ever. Then you had that big old ugly ogre (a rendering of the animated movie character Shrek on Tony Pedregon's car), who's the champ. And then, in the final, you have the points leader, the No. 1 qualifier and the guy who, by the numbers, has the hottest car out here (Bazemore).
"So just to be able to race those guys and have nothing stupid happen, that's something," Medlen said. "The guys did a good job. My dad did a phenomenal job. It doesn't really matter that we smoked the tires. That's gonna happen sometimes. He did a good job. Right now he's the guy to beat out here. He's trying new stuff and it's working. The car's running extremely good."
TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 55, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 6th at 4.831 seconds, 316.38 mph.
Race results: Beat Tim Wilkerson; lost to Eric Medlen.
Notable: Extended qualifying record to 332 consecutive events.
Quotable: "Eric just had too much race car for us (in the second round). You can't be upset with a drag race like that one (4.739 to 4.793)." -- JOHN FORCE.
ERIC MEDLEN, 30, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 3rd at 4.805 seconds, 318.32 mph.
Race results: Beat Bob Gilbertson, John Force, Tony Pedregon; lost to Whit Bazemore.
Notable: In only his ninth race as a Funny Car driver, reached the final round for the first time and lowered the Heartland Park-Topeka track record to 4.739 seconds.
Quotable: "We had a real good weekend. Yeah, winning in the final is a whole lot better than losing, but to be able to do this with my dad (crew chief John Medlen) and with these guys, man, it's unbelievable. We'll have a lot more chances." -- ERIC MEDLEN.
GARY DENSHAM, 57, Team Castrol/Auto Club of Southern California Ford
Mustang Funny Car
Qualifying position and performance: 9th at 4.846 seconds, 315.42 mph.
Race results: Beat Gary Scelzi; lost to Whit Bazemore.
Notable: Upset national speed record holder Gary Scelzi in round one and moved up to fifth place in points.
Quotable: "We had a really good race car -- again. We just ran up against somebody with a little bit better one. But we moved up in points and the good thing is there's another race in two weeks." -- GARY DENSHAM. * * * * NEXT EVENTS: Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Columbus, Ohio, June 11-13; K&N Filters SuperNationals, Englishtown, N.J., June 18-20; Sears Craftsman Nationals, Madison, Ill. (St. Louis), June 25-27; Mopar Mile-High Nationals, Denver, Colo., July 16-18; CARQUEST Northwest Nationals, Seattle, Wash., July 23-25; Fram/Autolite Nationals, Sonoma, Calif., July 30-Aug. 1.