TONY PEDREGON, 35, Chino Hills, Calif., driver of the Castrol SYNTECÃ¢â€žÂ¢ Ford Mustang, won his first race of the new millennium in his fourth trip to the finals. He was runner-up in the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., the ...
TONY PEDREGON, 35, Chino Hills, Calif., driver of the Castrol SYNTECâ„¢ Ford Mustang, won his first race of the new millennium in his fourth trip to the finals. He was runner-up in the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., the inaugural SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas and the Castrol Nationals at Ennis, Texas, before finally getting his ninth career win in an event in which he had never before advanced beyond the semifinals â€“ the 36th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals at National Trail Raceway. It was Pedregon's 25th final round appearance in only 95 starts for Team Castrol and John Force Racing and his first career victory from the No. 5 qualifying position.
VERSUS JERRY TOLIVER: Tony improved to 5-5 against Toliver and to 1-1 in final rounds. Toliver had won five straight meetings including four this year.
QUICKEST MAN ON THE PLANET: Tony owns the quickest quarter mile in Funny Car history (4.779 seconds last March in the 1999 MAC Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla.).
RECORDS: Tony set a National Trail Raceway track speed record of 314.53 miles per hour in a first round win over Cory Lee.
DID YOU KNOW? Tony was the initial winner (1996) of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Road to the Future Award (and the $10,000 cash bonus that accompanies it) which identifies one of the sport's future stars....Tony is the only Funny Car driver other than John Force to have broken the 4.80 second barrier and one of only three (with Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.) to have eclipsed the 320 mph barrier.....Tony is an accomplished custom painter specializing in driving helmets and motorcycle fuel tanks. Among those for whom he has painted helmets are Kenny Bernstein, Cory McClenathan, teammate John Force, Pro Stock points leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his Funny Car racing brothers Cruz Pedregon and Frank Pedregon....Tony had not won since last July when he prevailed for the second straight year in the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Denver, Colo. That constituted the longest victory drought of Tony's career â€“ 20 races. Tony and teammate John Force will be back at National Trail Raceway tomorrow morning for an impromptu test of the new 2000 Ford Mustang body which Force banished to the trailer after experiencing handling problems during qualifying.
JOHN FORCE, 51, of Yorba Linda, Calif., driver of the Castrol GTXÂ® Ford Mustang, suffered his sixth first round loss in 20 appearances at National Trail Raceway, a track on which he has won only twice in his career and on which he last won in 1990. John's first round loss to Jerry Toliver ended his 2000 winning streak at four races and put him in position to relinquish the Winston points lead. Should Toliver reach the final round today, he would move past Force and back in to the lead he held through the season's first seven races.
SEASON-TO-DATE: John has won five times this year. After winning the Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals at Phoenix, Ariz., last February, John strung four wins in a row at Richmond, Va., Atlanta, Ga., Dallas, Texas and Joliet, Ill. His victory at Joliet enabled him to move past Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden to become the most prolific winner in drag racing history with 86 titles.
VERSUS JERRY TOLIVER: John is now 5-2 in his relatively short rivalry with Jerry Toliver. In addition to his victory Sunday, Toliver beat Force in the final round of the 1999 season-ending AAA of Southern California Finals at Pomona, Calif.
RECORDS: John is the official NHRA national record holder for both quarter mile time (4.788 seconds at this race last year) and speed (324.05 miles per hour last year at Gainesville, Fla,).
FIRST ROUND LOSSES: John Force has lost only 20 first round races in his last 203 starts Since 1990, these are John's first round losses including qualifying position, event and opponent.
<pre> 1990 1. Winternationals Lost K.C. Spurlock 4. Englishtown Lost Tom Hoover 2. Winston Finals Lost Tim Grose
1991 6. Memphis Lost Jerry Caminito
1992 5. Seattle Lost Gary Clapshaw 6. Winston Finals Lost Gary Bolger
1993 2. Columbus Lost Gordon Mineo
1994 15. Winternationals Lost Kenji Okazaki 2. Memphis Lost Chuck Etchells
1995 2. Seattle Lost K.C. Spurlock
1997 9. Columbus Lost to Cruz Pedregon
1998 6. Phoenix Lost to Randy Anderson 4. Chicago Lost to Frank Pedregon 3. St. Louis Lost to Whit Bazemore 9. Sonoma Lost to Al Hofmann
1999 2. Sonoma Lost to Chuck Beal 8. Indianapolis Lost to Frank Pedregon 2. Reading Lost to Cory Lee
2000 1. Houston Lost to Bob Gilbertson 15. Columbus Lost to Jerry Toliver
</pre> COLUMBUS RECORD: In addition to Sunday's loss to Jerry Toliver, John lost in the first round at the 1980, 1987, 1989, 1993 and 1997 editions of the Pontiac Excitement Nationals.