“I think Medlen is absolutely the cornerstone of the team, and I think that guy is the cornerstone of any team because of his character, and his demeanor, he’s the guy you look to when you are having a bad day,” said Beckman, who won the 2012 nitro Funny Car world championship driving for DSR. “He brings such high class and rock solid morals and character that I think he’s a perfect nucleus to build the team around. I have not ever worked with Dean Antonelli and there’s a guy who spent 22 years at John Force Racing and that in of itself tells you a lot about him. Clearly, he’s dedicated, motivated and loyal. The only constant in life is things change and I’m so pleased he’s decided to make this change. He was very successful the last time he was a Funny Car crew chief on Ashley (Force’s) car. He and (Medlen) have worked together before and I think they have some similar personality traits, they both are very low profile, always deep in thought and I can’t wait to see what Dean’s going to bring to our team.”
Beckman acknowledged Strausbaugh coming onboard was a surprise to him.
“I didn’t see that one coming, and I like Neal,” he said. “We have been teammates under the DSR umbrella, but we’ve never been teammates wearing the same shirt at the races, but I think there is the guy who is going to add an interesting dynamic to our team. Here’s a Top Fuel guy who has been in the crew chief lounge for years, helping make calls on the Army car. The Funny Car isn’t a Top Fuel car, but I firmly believe that having a slightly different perspective on this coming from Neal is going to make us a better car.”
Antonelli was the general manager at John Force Racing the past two seasons after being a crew chief and assistant crew chief at that company where he spent 12 years working under Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. Antonelli was an assistant crew chief on four world championship Funny Car teams.
Beckman’s first opportunity to work in action with his co-crew chiefs will be at the test session at Wild Horse Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Ariz., the week before NHRA’s season-opening Winternationals Feb. 9-12 in Pomona, Calif.
“Our plan will be to do the three-day test (in Phoenix) and I think will probably drag our (NHRA) Finals combo there, which includes the 6-disc clutch, which we put in for Vegas and Pomona,” Beckman said. “Now, we are also going to do some things that we think are going to make it more predictable. At Pomona (the 2016 season-ending race in November), we made seven runs and on four of them our car hauled, and on three of them, it didn’t make it 10 feet. You can’t race like that. We’re going to have to find something that makes this car much more stable the first 50 feet of the run. I think that’s going to be our biggest target for the first four or five races, to get this thing to launch consistently well because I think once it gets to 50 feet, it’s just going to fly. I will sacrifice some ultimate performance to have more predictability out of the car. We ought to be able to make 12 runs at Phoenix and get a good beat on the car and you throw in another four qualifying runs at Pomona, assuming the weather cooperates, and we ought be able to have 16 runs under our belt.”
“There will be seven people who didn’t work on the Infinite Hero car last year,” Beckman said. “I think that those three test days in Phoenix are going to be really important for getting this new team working in a coordinated effort, and also be really essential for us getting some sort of baseline to drag to Pomona.”
Despite the wholesale changes to his team Beckman is brimming with optimism about the upcoming season.
“I can’t wait to start this year,” he said. “You have no idea how thrilled I am that Medlen is back because Infinite Hero is doing some pretty special stuff. As a drag racer, you want to go out and win races and you just want to destroy everybody on the race track, but with Infinite Hero we get to do a lot of things for some people who are beyond deserving when the car is not running. To have John back as a crew chief is awesome, but to have John back as a representative of the Infinte Hero race team is going to be amazing and I think (Dean) and Neal will fit into that role fantastically as well.”
Written by Tracy Renck Wed, 2016-12-28 18:00