Atlanta Cruz Pedregon story (FUNNY CAR)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 FUNNY CAR STANDOUT CRUZ PEDREGON SHARPENS FOCUS ON DRIVING SKILLS COMMERCE, Ga. -- It's not that strange to see an electronic reaction-time trainer in the trailers...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

FUNNY CAR STANDOUT CRUZ PEDREGON SHARPENS FOCUS ON DRIVING SKILLS

COMMERCE, Ga. -- It's not that strange to see an electronic reaction-time trainer in the trailers of many top NHRA drivers, who use the devices to hone their reaction to the starting light.

But it was surprising to see a trainer in the sparkling lounge of Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon at a recent race. Pedregon rarely used a training device in the past because of his abundant natural driving skill. He also made little time for a trainer because he loved to study the mechanical aspects of a 5,500-horsepower Funny Car between rounds.

The appearance of a reaction-time trainer in Pedregon's trailer was a symbol of his shift in focus this season in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird. He knows it's time to leave tuning to the tuners and driving to the driver.

"I have had a tendency to try and do too much in the car," Pedregon said. "I really want to focus on getting my head out of the engine and the clutch, and really concentrate on driving the car. That's the biggest change I'm making, not trying to do too much."

So far it's working. Pedregon, from Camarillo, Calif., was runner-up last month at the Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto in Houston and is seventh in the NHRA Winston point standings entering the 17th annual, $1,462,250 Fram Nationals, April 10-13 at Atlanta Dragway. The race is the fifth event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997.

Pedregon turned more attention to driving after failing to qualify at the ATSCO Nationals, the first time he missed a show in his six-year career. But a No. 1 qualifying spot at the Mac Tools Gatornationals and a runner-up finish at Houston have Pedregon talking title again.

"Through the years, we've gone through mini-slumps and come out of them," Pedregon said. "There's still a lot of racing left. By midseason, a guy could be right back in the hunt."

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon