Dallas: Cruz Pedregon final report

Battle of the former champs goes to Force DALLAS (Sept. 21) -- Former world champions Cruz Pedregon and John Force have had some epic battles over the years. They added another chapter Sunday at the Texas Motorplex with Force getting the best of...

Battle of the former champs goes to Force

DALLAS (Sept. 21) -- Former world champions Cruz Pedregon and John Force have had some epic battles over the years. They added another chapter Sunday at the Texas Motorplex with Force getting the best of Pedregon in the opening round of the 23rd annual Super Start Batteries NHRA Nationals by a scant three-hundredths of a second.

"I heard him over there but I thought we had enough to hold on for the win," Pedregon said. "I didn't see his car until after the finish line but I didn't see the win light either. We knew he was a step ahead of us on Saturday so we felt like we needed to step it up a bit today and Rahn (Tobler, crew chief) got after it, but they stepped up a bit also."

Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Funny Car champion, was intensely focused on the race, leaving the starting line with a stellar .022-second reaction time against Force's solid, but trailing, .061-second start. The race was on from there with Force slowing catching and passing Pedregon at the eight-mile mark, winning with a 4.163 at 302.48 mph to Pedregon's 4.233 at 295.46 mph in his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara.

The result dropped Pedregon from first to fifth place in the tightly-packed POWERade championship points standings as the other four drivers bunched up behind him at the start of the event all managed to advance.

"This is just a bump in the road," Pedregon said of just his third first-round exit of the year. "Fortunately, we had a great outing last weekend in Charlotte so that offsets this weekend a little bit. We need to show the ability to rebound from races like this because they will happen. If we're good enough, we'll still win the championship.

"It's so close at the top of the points. With the way we all seem to be taking turns knocking each other out we should be able to get out of here without too much damage. The only thing that could hurt all of us is if one driver starts to run away with this thing, but I just don't see that happening."

Fortunately, Pedregon won't have long to wait to get back in the fight as the Mid-South NHRA Nationals begin Friday at Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn.

"Memphis will be as hot as it was here, and Rahn seems to do really well in the heat, so we'll hope for a big rebound there," Pedregon said. "I also want to say thanks to the huge group of guests we had here this weekend. They really kept us pumped up, and that means a lot when you're fighting for the championship."

-credit: pr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Cruz Pedregon